Nikhil Dutt has big aspirations.
He wants to become “the next Steve Jobs.”
And, like the co-founder of Apple Inc., he has a craving for innovation and entrepreneurship.
So, it may not be surprising that the 17-year-old Land O’ Lakes high school senior developed his own desktop computer application, as a side interest.
It’s called ‘Student Toolbox,’ and it aims to simplify the lives of students.
Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop for students to organize their schoolwork.
Built through a Microsoft Access coding program, ‘Student Toolbox’ helps students organize tasks, with tools such as reminders for when an assignment is due; an address book that helps students connect with teachers and their peers; and, the ability to map out their classrooms by uploading maps of the school.
The toolbox also features a “Media” button to upload podcasts, assignments and lectures from classes or other online resources.
“It’s something that I felt is useful, so I wanted to apply it to other people,” Dutt said.
It was enough to catch the attention of U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who recently announced Dutt as the winner of 2016 Congressional App Challenge for Florida’s 12th Congressional District.
“I am very impressed with Nikhil’s app, and can envision ‘Student Toolbox’ being used by high school students across the country,” Bilirakis said, in a statement. “Coding and app development are important skills for the 21st century, and it is great to see these skills being embraced right here in Pasco County.”
The Congressional App Challenge drew more than 2, 150 student competitors across the nation. Winners were selected from 123 congressional districts.
The contest aims to encourage students to design their own original smartphone or desktop apps, promoting computer science and STEM education in schools.
App submissions were judged by a panel made up of teachers, and various tech professionals and entrepreneurs.
Criteria included quality of the idea (including creativity and originality); implementation of the idea (including user experience and design); and demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills.
When Dutt first heard about the challenge, he figured he’d give it a shot.
He noted the contest was “the best way for me to express my admiration” of entrepreneurship.
To brush up on application coding, Dutt turned to instructional videos on YouTube.
“It’s amazing the amount of free resources you can get online,” he said.
Dutt’s creation took about a year to complete.
“Every weekend, I would work on it for a few hours, here and there,” he said. “The idea started developing in my head and then, over time, I turned it into a product.”
Dutt acknowledged the app is still undergoing beginning testing stages. However, he hopes schools can someday use it, once updates and revisions are made.
In the meantime, Dutt is already brainstorming other app developments, including a medical-based program to assist surgeons.
That app, in theory, would allow for surgeons “to draw out a picture” of procedures, instead of having nurses write them down.
His parents, who are both medical doctors, influenced that idea. His father is an ophthalmologist and his mother is a radiation oncologist.
Dutt — like many other students in the school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program— serves in several school organizations.
He is the president of the school’s American Red Cross Club; he’s also a member of the Model UN Club and the Future Business Leaders of America.
“I have a lot of different passions,” the high school senior said.
Over the long term, Dutt envisions owning his own company, and helping others globally through computer science and technology.
While he one day hopes to make the same kind of impact as the former Apple CEO did, Dutt knows those aspirations are a long way off.
“It’s a bit of a stretch,” the aspiring entrepreneur said.
Published December 28, 2016