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Kyle Ryan’s HackNY 2014 Fellowship Application – Applying and Being a Fellow

Kyle Ryan
Kyle Ryan
Oct 16, 2014 · 6 min read

This past summer, I was HackNY fellow and an intern at the Betaworks-backed reading app, Instapaper. The following blog post displays my application for the fellowship and some good thoughts about it.

“HackNY aims to federate the next generation of hackers for the New York innovation community.”

You’ll live with a cohort of some of the most talented and creative student-hackers; have a paid internship; and have the opportunity to learn from your work, learn from our structured weekly speaker series, and learn from each other.

Today, applications are open here.

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If you’re thinking about applying to the fellowship, it was the most amazing summer of my life. Here’s what my application looked like.

Kyle Ryan

University of Rochester

Computer Science / Human Computer Interaction

Graduation Date
June 2017 (Freshman)

Github Username

Twitter Handle

Personal Site

Tell us about a time you built something awesome in code. How did you choose it? Why did you enjoy it?

One of my favorite projects was a 3 x 3 LED light cube, which I made when I was 13 years old. Even though it was *not* my most technical challenge by far, it taught me a very important lesson.

The best products come at the intersection of liberal arts and technology. This LED cube was not only a triumph in code, but it was also beautiful to watch. You could set it to music, and it would instantly become a work of art. Turn off the lights, and it becomes a soldered jumble of wires. Technology meets art. When you viewed it, the technology disappeared. Something I continue to aspired to create in the things I do today.

Is there a particular technology or industry you’re currently interested in? How come? Where do you see it heading in the future?

There are two really big fields that I am interested in right now: Education and Social Content.

Education — I have talked a lot about education on my Medium blog. You can read about it here: I deeply believe that we need a revolution in education that promotes an organic system of learning. A system that is not based on a factory model. Education’s greatest pitfall is that it does not promote individualized study and curiosity into subjects that schools do not teach. A factory education model does not provide the diversity of talents and passions that we need for the 22nd century. If we do not change things, we are headed towards a very dim future. Education will need to change within the next 10 years. Things like Khan Academy that allow for self-learning are a great sign of change.

Social Content — Heartwood (my app) is probably the greatest way to see my viewpoint on social content. As a natural born maker, the ability to connect two people is paramount. The more connections we make, the faster humanity moves forward. Social content allows us to understand each other on a much more deeper and personal level. The only way to create real world action is to bring people together.Things like Instructables, Kickstarter, Tumblr, Snapchat and Medium allow people to connect and have more power to create things then they can on their own. The future of social content is a really exciting area. As I am currently exploring with Heartwood, there are endless unexplored ways to connect people together through technology.

Discuss your technical skills/proficiencies/languages and experience

Skills highlights:
• I have published 3 Objective-C apps, with the 4th on its way.
• I have published 5 open source Objective-C projects for developers.
• I have done 15 independent projects in the last 6 years.
• I started my first LLC when I was 15 years old.
• I independently put a camera into near-space with a weather balloon.

Coding: My greatest coding strength is with Objective-C. I deeply explored the in’s and out’s of Obj-C. In addition, I am familiar with JQuery, JS, and PHP; but but no means an expert in them. However, I am very open to gaining greater knowledge in these languages. I have been on the iOS platform since I was 13 (9 months after the app store’s creation). I have published 3 apps with the 4th one on its way. The first 2 apps were published when I was 15, the third was published when I was 17, and the last one called Heartwood is still in development. Heartwood is probably the best indicator to my skills in both coding and design.

Jobs: I had an internship at an engineering firm called JMC in New York during the 2013 summer. I also maintained an administrative position at Arbre Studios LLC from 2011 to 2013 as founder.

Making things: Creating things is part of who I am. Over the years, I have created things in alternative energy, app development, electronics and physics. I taught myself circuitry, Objective-C, web development without any classes.

Age: At this time for a program like HackNY, my age is also a proficiency. I am young enough that am extremely open to new experiences, yet old enough that I have a lot of experience at making things. If I was any older, my view of the startup scene might be different. This summer is the best time for me to experience HackNY.

Location: I go to University of Rochester, the 32nd top school in the United States. I am classmates with Charles Lehner and Steve Gattuso who are HackNY alumni from 2012. I am an active member in University of Rochester’s hacker group called RocHack. I live in Connecticut about one hour from the city, so it is much more convenient for me compared to the California startup scene.

When you’re not coding, what do you like to do for fun?

When I was younger, around 5 or 6, I decided I wanted to be someone who was a balance between being smart and being social. I did not want to be someone who sat in front of a computer all day or played video games. I also did not want to be “too” social that I neglected my studies. I think I have found a balance and work to improve myself every single day.

My favorite outdoor activities are cycling and running. I did cross country in high school and road cycling is a hobby of mine. I also really like to write. I wrote my first “novel” in third grade. Ever since then I’ve loved to write. I have kept an active blog on this year. I also took up piano at the beginning of this year so I could teach myself the basics. My Instagram account is also full of some photography I have done. It is not official, but I love taking photos.

Any free text you’d like us to add when describing you to proposed host startups?
1) I try to be as down to earth as possible. 2) I consider myself an autodidactic. I am self-taught in almost every area I am interested in, whether it is code, science or piano. 3) I spent many years doing science fairs, so I am good at talking in front of large groups. I can give pretty good presentations. 4) I have done (a lot) of projects. 5) I am really outgoing and excited to work on new projects.

Final thoughts:

  • You get to work with a great startup in New York City.
  • You get free housing in Union Square with the 30 fellows.
  • You get to hear great talks from Microsoft, Facebook, Codecademy and others.
  • You might even get free snacks are your startup’s office!
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The fellowship applications opened today, here.

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