A young man from our borough with a talent for coding and computers got a boost from a youth program that teaches video game design.
Amadou Diallo, a 15-year-old recent immigrant who is a senior at Bronx International High School with a full scholarship to New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, was honored at a gala hosted by Urban Arts Partnership on Monday, April 16, recognizing his exceptional work.
At UAP, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to closing achievement gaps for youth, Diallo is part of the School of Interactive Arts.
He was referred to the program by one of his teachers at Bronx International who noticed that he kept asking questions about programming, he said.
Diallo said his game design classes at SIA taught him coding, and fed an interest in computer science that the Morris Heights resident said began in his native country of Guinea in west Africa.
“When I joined and started classes, I realized this was the real deal,” said Diallo. “It was competitive, difficult work. We were learning college-level programming.”
Back in Guinea, Diallo learned about binary code and the basics of computers from articles he read on a cell phone his mother provided him, he said.
In his native land his curiosity was stymied because his parents could not afford a computer, and electricity was rationed, only being turned on every other day.
Watching animated movies like Iron Man piqued his imagination when he was in Guinea, said Diallo.
However, with no one knowledgeable enough to answer his questions, Diallo could not take his interests any further until he moved to the United States, he said.
Once here, he taught himself the computer language HTML, but computer science classes at his high school were limited, which made the UAP program helpful, he said.
He created a video game called Blind Runner, where a player has to collect coins, representing opportunities, and reach a final destination while avoiding obstacles, said Diallo.
Creating Blind Runner taught him a lot, from programming to working with others and getting feedback about how he could make his game work better, said Diallo.
Diallo said he hopes one day to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology and work to improve education in Guinea.
“I would like to be the CEO of a technology start up and use technology…to improve education in my home country,” said Diallo.
AT&T has contributed $250,000 to the School of Interactive Arts to expand programming.
“Urban Arts is a unique program that equips students with both the practical and creative skills to succeed in computer science and design,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T northeast region president.