State College

State High student builds award-winning app

Lachlan Campbell shares his app, Noodles, with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, during the House of Code 2016.
Lachlan Campbell shares his app, Noodles, with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, during the House of Code 2016. Photo provided

It’s a nice feeling, having the world on a string.

Lachlan Campbell can follow that thread all the way back to the third grade.

That’s when his family purchased its first iPad and that’s when he realized the awesome power of having the entirety of the information superhighway quite literally at his fingertips.

All of life’s possibilities could now be summed up by five little words — there’s an app for that.

“Someone had created this thing and I could download it in 30 seconds and then use it — and I thought that was amazing,” Campbell said.

Nearly six years later he’s discovered that being the guy who does the creating isn’t half bad either.

Campbell, a freshman at State College Area High School, was recently pronounced Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District winner in the 2015 Congressional App Challenge, which was designed to fan the flirtation between young people and the computer sciences — and coding in particular.

To really appreciate Noodles, Campbell’s award-winning app, it helps to be intimately familiar with the joys — and, to some extent, the frustrations — of cooking.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, we will define that process here as any sequence of events not involving a microwave oven or a takeout menu where the end result is dinner.

Campbell is not the uninitiated.

“I really enjoy cooking at home with my family and over the years we have acquired several shelves of cookbooks,” Campbell said.

In fact, their collection was growing so big that they were starting to run out of room.

A good son goes to Target and buys another shelf, but a great son sits down at the computer and teaches himself how to code.

Campbell initially developed Noodles as a compact digital safe space for storing recipes, a hodgepodge cookbook that you could judge by any number of covers, be it computer, iPad or tablet.

Initially he relied on online tutorials and the classes he took on weekends to help point him in the right direction with the coding, but Campbell quickly learned to stand on his own two feet.

“It was difficult but at the same time it was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” Campbell said.

He was able to push his initial concept further and further. Beyond storing a pre-existing recipe for, say, duck a l’orange, Noodles can help find a new one as well.

The cook mode that Campbell added also makes the actual cooking experience a whole lot easier. Noodles places a recipe’s ingredients and instructions on separate sides of the screen, so that the chef is less likely to lose his or her place.

While a user’s recipes are kept completely private, Noodles does provide the option of sharing with friends and family.

So far Campbell’s culinary delight has been well received, downloaded by several hundred people in more than 40 countries.

“It’s been awesome how quickly it’s grown,” Campbell said.

He remains committed to the success of Noodles but is also eager to start developing other projects.

If this early success has taught Campbell anything, it’s that there’s no time like the present.

“I think one of the main things is it’s just not that hard to get started,” Campbell said.

Take Noodles for a spin at https://www.getnoodl.es/.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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