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Jesuit app is student's labor of love

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Published:   |   Updated: June 28, 2013 at 08:48 AM

TAMPA - Dominic Kynkor , a computer whiz and rising sophomore at Jesuit High School, has created a modern first for the century-old private Catholic school.

Using what little spare time he had during his freshman year, the 15-year-old spent seven months creating a mobile app for Jesuit High.

"I was always kind of a computer whiz, but I never really programmed until about a year ago," said Kynkor. "I was about 11 when I started playing around on my mom's computer." Since then he has been "the I.T. guy for my family," Bryan and Pamela Kynkor of Beach Park.

The app, which is free, serves students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the general public. Kynkor has taken summer computer courses at several schools, including Duke University's Talent Identification Program. This week and next he is taking advanced software classes at Stanford University in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

He was introduced to programming at one of those summer sessions and used what he learned to develop his first Apple-certified app, Arrow Science, devoted to another of his passions: physics. "It's a physics calculator app; you plug in two variables and get another variable out," he said of that one, developed in the summer of 2012 after graduating South Tampa's Academy of the Holy Names.

"Then I was playing around with the idea for a Jesuit app, and learning some different features of programming." Early on, he showed his project to Nicholas Suszynski, director of development at Jesuit, an all-male school which draws its enrollment of 750 from a wide area that includes Brandon, Carrollwood, Lutz and Pasco County. Suszynski encouraged Kynkor to proceed.

"I had to work on it mostly late at night and on weekends," said the teen, a member of Jesuit's district champion track and field and cross-country teams. "It was difficult a schedule to juggle, but somehow I managed it in my free time."

At latest count, more than 200 people had downloaded the Jesuit app which, among other things, provides fast access to school news and activities and vital information for Jesuit constituents. It upgrades the web site (www.jesuittampa.org) and simplifies navigation.

The app Kynkor developed is specifically for iPhone users. Jesuit also has a mobile web site for non-iPhone mobile users. It can be found in the education section of the App Store (www.apple.com) under "Jesuit High School of Tampa."

Upgrades are planned. "This is a pretty basic version," said Kynkor, who wants to add features for incoming freshmen, including a map to help navigate the large campus at 4701 N. Himes Ave. He also wants to add iPad integration to enable communication between students and their instructors.

As for a future in computer science, Kynkor is leaving his options open. "Possibly, but I've got a lot of interests, actually," he said. "I'm a big physics guy" who also is interested in engineering," he said. "What's good about programming, you can incorporate all of your interests with programming."

gwilkens@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7124

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