Mon, Jul 8, 2024 6:00 AM

Budding software engineer at 16


Anne Hardie

At seven, Fabien Brocklesby was fascinated by the world of code. By the time he was eight, he was making basic apps and now at 16, he has just left school to take the first step to establishing his own business as a software engineer.

The former Waimea College Year 13 student from Māpua describes coding in simple terms as “making computers do stuff”.

It tells the computer which actions to perform and how to complete tasks. He was using YouTube when he was seven to learn programming language – which provides the rules for building websites, apps, and other computer-based technologies - beginning with one called C#.

While he says it is not a practical language, it introduced him to more sophisticated coding languages such as JavaScript and Node.js, plus “a ton of libraries” so he could begin creating apps.

In 2021, he created an app to prevent bullying, which won him a gold award at the Cawthron SciTech Expo. That was an app he had been thinking about since he was eight years old because he had experienced bullying himself for being different. The app was designed to enable students to report incidents anonymously to a chosen teacher. Though he never implemented the app, the school later approached him for ideas to put something in place.

This year, while on a software engineering internship through school with the timber products company Genia, Fabien developed a stocktaking app that scans stocks of timber. He made the app from scratch and says it will hopefully be in production soon.

“I’ve learned a fair bit from making a few apps.”

He now has a passion for “building beautiful and functional” websites and applications and describes himself as a full-stack developer who works on both the front end (what you see) and back end (what makes it work) of web applications.

Clients are already lining up, mostly for websites, so two weeks ago he signed out of school with University Entrance Level 2 to get more real-world experience and build his portfolio.

“I feel it’s more valuable for me to pursue what I want to do. I have lots of ideas – mostly apps and hardware technology that connects to apps.”

At 16, he says coding is second nature and he just wants to explore it further. Down the track, he would like to get into Software as a Service (SaaS) which is a software distribution model where a cloud provider hosts applications and makes them available to end users over the internet.

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