Looking for CAM Academy info on-the-go? Thanks to senior Mackinnon Buck, there’s an app for that

posted Apr 20, 2017, 3:18 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Looking for CAM Academy info on-the-go? Thanks to senior Mackinnon Buck, there’s an app for that

April 20, 2017

CAM Academy senior Mackinnon Buck was just 12 years old when he created his first video game. Titled “Fruit Addiction,” the game features a birds-eye view of a playing surface where the on-screen character tries to collect pieces of fruit while dodging bombs. Now, six years and countless lines of code later, Buck is turning his passion for computer programming and gaming into a bright future that incorporates giving back to his community.

Buck, a self-taught coder, single-handedly designed an app for CAM Academy as part of English Language Arts teacher Diane Harpe’s community service project for seniors. The project required students to perform 25 hours of community service and then write a paper about their experience.

“When Mackinnon was assigned the senior research and community service project, he wanted to do something that would utilize his gift for programming and make a difference in the community,” said Harper. “He decided to build an app from the ground up that would allow parents and students to access CAM's website and teacher pages from their mobile devices in an easy-to-read and access format.”

Not satisfied with the state of his project after the requisite 25 hours of work had been completed, Buck kept going until the quality of the programming was up to his standards. By the time he turned in his paper, he had already spent an estimated 75 hours on the project.   
“I am impressed by Mackinnon's commitment to CAM and his integrity as a student and programmer,” Harpe said. “Not only did he continue working on the app after he had completed his project, but he also plans to update the app as needed after he graduates.”

Mackinnon says the main benefit of the app is that it has an easy-to-use navigation system and a useful search feature. He wrote the code in the C# programming language and used a cross-platform development program called Xamarin that supports both Android and iOS and allows the app to work across both mobile platforms.

Another slick feature of his app is that if the website content changes or is updated, the app automatically updates, too. The app isn’t necessarily specific to CAM Academy’s website, either. The code is open source, so it could be used as a template for others to pick up where Mackinnon left off and create apps for other schools in the district.

"I am very proud of the work that Mackinnon did on the CAM App project,” said Principal Ryan Cowl. “He took the initiative to set this up on his own and invested so much of his time to make sure everything worked. He collaborated closely with school and district staff to make sure there were no issues throughout every step of this project. We all applaud his effort and dedication."

MacKinnon has been a member of the CAM robotics team, the CloverBots, all four years of his high school career and is the team’s lead programmer. He and his teammates are in Houston this weekend competing in the World's Competition. The robotics team was one of 32 from Washington that qualified for the event. CAM’s team is currently ranked 20th heading into the competition in Houston, where more than 400 teams from around the world are competing.

Mackinnon plans to study computer science next year at college. He has applied and been accepted at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Gonzaga, and Cal Poly. While he’s still mulling over his options, he’s leaning towards Gonzaga, Cal Poly, and OSU.

“Oregon State has an exceptional robotics program, which is really appealing,” Buck said. “I’ve learned so much and had so much fun on the CAM CloverBots robotics team these last four years that I’m strongly considering OSU.”

After he graduates, Mackinnon would like to start his career at AutoDesk, a multinational software corporation headquartered in San Rafael, Calif. The company makes software for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries. Mackinnon already has an internship with the company’s satellite office in Lake Oswego, Ore. as a project manager training other programmers.

Regardless of what Mackinnon does next, his hard work and dedication during his time at CAM Academy has ensured that his influence will be felt for years to come.