Gifted Garryowen teenager David Wallace has developed an app for St Munchin’s College which has been hailed by the school’s vice-principal as a major step forward and a great resource for both pupils and parents.
Sixteen-year-old David - described by vice-principal Brian O’Donoghue as “hardworking, enthusiastic and dedicated”- started programming when he was 11. He has also created several popular computer games and looks set for a big future in the IT industry.
The St Munchin’s app is part of the school’s continuing digital innovation. Mr O’Donoghue believes it will set the standard in terms of IT for other schools, with St Munchin’s being one of the first schools in Munster to have its own dedicated app, made entirely by a student.
After his first game, Gravity Pixel, was finally published in May, David asked Mr O’Donoghue to give it a plug on the school website - and got more than he bargained.
The vice-principal asked if he would be interested in designing an app for the school. “We’ll always put students first, before reaching out to professional companies to make an app for us,” said Mr O’Donoghue. “He took a day or two to think about it, and he was nervous.
“Going from making a game to a school app is a big leap, but fortunately he agreed. We spent the next few days discussing what we actually wanted in the app, like timetables, profiles and news. After that, he felt much more comfortable with the idea and over the coming months went about creating and designing the app.”
David smiled: “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse! They paid me for something I was interested in doing. I wanted to see if I could make the leap from games to a full-on information app and after a while I was really confident with the idea and accepted their offer.”
Part of a family of five, David added: “My family played a big part in supporting me, even though they didn’t really know what I was up to!”
The IT whizzkid described the process of making Gravity Pixel as “a nightmare” - and it required a huge amount of trial and error. “I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was close to publishing it when a tiny error forced me to scrap the whole thing! I lost well over a hundred hours of work. All I could do was start again.”
During development of the St Munchin’s App, David began working on a second game- Global Thermonuclear War. It was a modest hit, with over 5,000 downloads since its launch.
“I’ve made well over €500 from the game, which is way more than I was expecting. I was even approached by some publishers who expressed interest in my games.”
The money earned will all go towards future projects, he said. “I’m really excited to see what happens next. I have much more support and experience now than I did at the start of this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a career out of programming.”
The St Munchin’s College app is now available now for Apple and Android devices along with Gravity Pixel and Global Thermonuclear War. All three are free for download.
Alan Horgan is a fifth year student in St Munchin’s College