Harrison Sun works with NASA

A 14-year-old programmer and website developer, freshman Harrison Sun is clearly no stranger to the world of technology. He often spends up to 12 hours a day on weekends programming and coding.

“I’ve always loved computers. There are a lot of possibilities with it, so I enjoy the freedom of computers,” Sun said. “Technology is a growing field, and it’s probably the future so I thought it’d be a good field to go in. I think of a computer as a tool that you have to keep refining, and the more you refine it, the more easily accessible the tasks are.”

His uncle, who is a computer programmer, first introduced Sun to computer wiring in fourth grade. But it wasn’t until sixth grade that Sun’s interest in technology began to flourish, when his fellow classmate and “computer genius” best friend exposed him to the basics of website-building. Though the two friends were competitors, their friendship motivated Sun to do better because of an underlying rivalry to see who would go further in the technological field.

“You’re friends with someone because you have a common interest, but at the same time, you want to be of equal intellect. I was always the student who excelled at everything without trying very hard. But I learned that there will be competition in life and I actually have to try harder to actually be able to compete,” Sun said.

Sun has also expanded his exposure to technology outside of solely programming. In seventh grade, Sun and the other Science Club members at Young Scholars Academy in Arizona were already conducting research for the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA).

For the project, Sun worked with a small six-bladed helicopter and sensors to test the pH and salinity levels of the river. His group aimed to determine nearby cities’ effect on pollution levels in the Colorado River.

“We found out the city had a dramatic effect on the river’s pollution levels and they wanted to take it to city council to have that changed,” Sun said. “I feel really lucky to be able to have all of these opportunities. It’s not every [day] that someone gets to be involved with something that affects the whole community.”

In his spare time, Sun enjoys studying programming books on his own and working for his parents’ convenience store business. He handles basic computing, such as creating excel spreadsheets to keep track of the inventory.

“The way I learn so much is I go around and look at every option there is, which takes forever; I go around and browse and see what I can do,” Sun said. Studying on my own is both a combination of persistence and my passion and interest for technology.”

This summer, Sun will attend an eight-day technology conference at University of California, Berkeley to explore robot programming. Aerospace engineers of NASA, deans of engineering at Harvard University and Stanford University and research scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology will administer the event.

“I think it’s important to have a broad view on technology and be open-minded with whatever new possibilities there are,” Sun said. “I saw that [technology] was a very successful trade and I was always pressed to do my best to have a successful future. So, I figured I would look into that and I just ended up loving computers.”

By Sophia Ding, Staff writer

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