Austin Wilson taught Alexa how to drive a motorized car, winning a second-place award in Hackster’s Internet of Voice Challenge (IoV) with Raspberry Pi. Then he taught Alexa how to communicate with ships in the video game Elite Dangerous, winning first place in the Amazon Alexa API Mashup Contest.
Those credentials are even more impressive when you consider Austin is just 17 years old—and the fact that he taught himself to build voice experiences using tutorials in the Alexa Skills Kit.
“I was like, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to learn this, and I’m going to do this,’” Austin says. “It was a really cool experience.”
The high school junior lives in Rocky River, Ohio. He’s an Eagle Scout, a tennis player, and a member of the marching band at his school. During the school year, he also interns as a developer at Comsat Architects, a company that builds software for NASA. He is currently applying to colleges, and plans to major in computer engineering.
To those who are new to the world of building for Alexa, he offers this advice: “Don’t give up when your code is failing,” he says. “That happened to me a lot, and it was always very simple errors. And definitely go through the documentation. Amazon has provided a lot of really good tutorials that are really helpful.”