OSAGE | For Osage High School senior Lucas Schwamman, coding, programming and cybersecurity have become a passion which are quickly building into greater things as heads toward graduation.
Schwamman was recently appointed to the Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council. The council had its first meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12.
The 15-person council meets virtually, which allows students to chat without having to travel.
Among the topics discussed were broadband speed in rural areas and tower connectivity. In February, students will have a meeting in Des Moines at the Iowa Communications Networks building to talk face-to-face about the issues of broadband use around the state, including ways to enhance security and help prevent cyberbullying.
“Iowa Big North had helped a lot with networking,” Schwamman said.
Getting to know the heads of big companies has given him the opportunity to make contacts as well as take part in job shadowing and internships, both vital first steps towards establishing himself in the workforce.
“I was contacted about a job shadowing at Saturday MFG,” Schwamman said, “and it was really a very busy day. It involved following the owners as they went through their normal work day. So, sitting in on meetings involving graphic design, looking at plans for a commercial, organizing events around Des Moines, a working lunch, and then we attended a workshop for a Facebook game created by a college student in his dorm room. He’d sold it to Facebook for millions.”
In addition, Schwamman is interning through Osage Municipal Utilities and has a job there redeveloping and updating its website, osage.net. He’s also been contacted by an Ankeny business owner, who wanted a website designed.
“He didn’t have a really good design and he wanted to use his site for e-commerce and to make it a more-friendly site for users,” Schwamman said. “I worked on it for a few weeks and when I gave it to him, instead of paying me, he gave me ownership equity in his company. Now I get to work on that site at www.drinkits-us.com, as well.”
The work experience is invaluable, especially to a high school student who will soon be graduating and looking ahead to the future.
“I personally would like to do more within the workforce on freelance projects after I graduate,” he said.
At Osage, Schwamman is a member of Iowa Big North, the IT Club, Student Council and plays on the varsity football and basketball teams. He is also in track and has been a state qualifier for the past two years.
“I really like it (football), I’m a fan, especially of college football, and I love the UNI Panthers.” said Schwamman. “I’ve been playing since middle school, and I had a good year last year and I want this to be a good senior year. I do have an offer from Culver-Stockton College, in Missouri, to play football for them.”
Schwamman also played AAU basketball on a variety of different teams, and was able to close out his AAU career as part of the Iowa Mavericks, out of Cedar Rapids. Over the summer, they had the opportunity to play in Las Vegas. Schwamman was able to mingle his love of coding with his love of basketball, where he got the opportunity of coding and creating his first iPhone app.
The app contained the schedules for the different Maverick teams, the rosters, information on the organization, the four different grade levels, which make up the organization, plus a staff page, presenting them in a menu-based format.
In addition, Schwamman had to get the app through Apple in order to have it appear on the app store.
“I had to submit it to them, and they had to review and approve of it, which they did in less than 24 hours,” he said. “They had it up before the tournaments began.
"There is even a feature on there for push button notification, so coaches can send out updates on scores to anyone with the app, so they can keep up with the teams.”
In addition, he DJs at school dances and helps design the T-shirts homecoming and other school events, when not trying to make iPhone apps for himself.
“DJing came from the student council,” Schwamman said. “I’ve always had an interest in mixing music and had the setup, turntable, computer, lights, speakers and everything needed, and the students voted for me to do it. So, I’ve been doing it ever since.
"I’ve been on student council for the past two years. I had to apply for the spot. It’s just about helping the school and growing leadership skills.”
Balancing it all with a day planner and a daily routine, Schwamman admits at times it can take a lot of effort to stay organized.
“I wake up in the morning and check my emails,” said Schwamman, “then I go to school. At Iowa Big North, I get a great deal of my work done but also have my most creative thoughts, then afterwards is football, and then I head home and work on stuff.”
Schwamman cites Iowa Big North with really helping him learn to talk in front of crowds and be able to present his ideas to people, while also selling them on his abilities.
“Before Iowa Big North, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that without being nervous, so now, it’s more about me branching off and doing bigger things,” he said.
Growing from an experience back when he was in seventh grade, Schwamman has pursued most of his coding and programming knowledge on his own time.
“In seventh grade, my friends and I would play XBox all the time, and one day we got hacked and kicked off the net. I had the background knowledge of how it happened, and from there I got interested in cyber security, website development, I-Phone apps and graphic design,” he said. “I haven’t really been able to find a class to challenge me in that regard. I think that is something that should be taught with how big it’s gotten, especially with so many companies needed coding done for websites.”
Most recently, Schwamman has taken part in the release of a new site, ventaboutit.com.
“Josh Byrnes had this idea about giving people a place to vent their feelings without them having to vent them on Facebook and other social media platforms. They could type out whatever they wanted but it would go nowhere, hitting send would just make the text disappear,” Schwamman said. “That way, they could feel better for having vented. In addition we also have links there to helpful sites, like a suicide prevention site. Anyone can access it if they have Internet.”
Schwamman hopes to specialize and work for someone in the field of coding and programming, though he would eventually like to own his own company and do all of the things he is passionate about.