By Zack Orsborn
STARKVILLE – While running an errand in Starkville, Terence Williams received a life-changing email from Apple Inc.
He applied for Apple’s 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference attendance scholarship months earlier with no expectations of getting the $1,700 attendance fee waived and being one of the 350 winners.
Every year, Apple hosts the five-day conference in San Francisco for developers to show off new app innovations and release iPhone and other Apple hardware updates.
“I was sure that I wasn’t going to get it. It’s worldwide. I’ve only been developing apps for three years, and I only have 12 apps,” Williams said. “Maybe only three were good, so I was like, ‘There’s no way.’”
Williams submitted his most successful app Bully Walk, a navigational app that includes routes to every place on Mississippi State University’s campus including academic buildings, classrooms, eateries and athletic facilities. Students can view a real-time bus routes and a livestream camera view of the Junction.
Since the release in January, the app has been downloaded more than 1,000 times and has been used more than 5,000 times.
Williams, from Oakland, Miss., in Yalobusha County, looks forward to networking with other developers, gaining new ideas and getting feedback on his 12 apps.
“I’ve never been on a plane, so it’s going to be a big experience for me,” he said. “I want to get my name out there and get Mississippi’s name out there for development and mobile application development.”
The future of Mississippi tech
Growing up, Williams was sure he was going to be a truck driver. His father drove trucks, and he thought he’d follow the tradition.
But technology caught his eye and mind.
He was selected to be apart of the Upward Bound program at his high school in Coffeeville where professors and motivational speakers exposed him to electronics and engineering.
Before he went to MSU, he was accepted into the summer Bridge program, an engineering program for minority students entering college.
“During that five-week period, we took college courses and took trips to learn more about engineering,” he said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a computer engineer.”
Williams released his first app Timster Beats, a simple MP3 player, in 2013 after taking a freshman course called iProgram.
His professor told him about Apple’s iOS Developer program to get apps published on the App Store, and Williams got to work coding and designing.
“After I released Timster, I worked on a game called Color Swerve,” he said. “It took me a full 12 months to finish it because I quit about five times. Once I figured it out, I released it, and then I realized that I could start doing it regularly.”
An app that once took him a year to develop would now take him five days, Williams said. He spends hours late into the early morning working on apps. His wife, Daesha, has named every one of his apps for him.
“I’m doing something I really love,” he said. “I’ve always strived to the best I can be. I’m not trying to be some superhero; I’m just trying to do what I enjoy.”
Williams just launched his development company, Nobility Tech, through MSU’S Entrepreneurship Center. Currently, he’s meeting with local business in Starkville to possibly build apps for their business.
Two weeks ago, he began developing his newest app, titled Vizi Note, that will combine an iPhone user’s Notes app, Reminders app and Camera app all in one.
After graduation, Williams wants to either join an innovative development team in Mississippi or create his own.
“I know I’ll be giving back to my community and Mississippi and possibly starting up some scholarship funds for my hometown,” he said. “I want to give back and inspire people to continue my footsteps of following your dreams and believing in yourself.”