Finding a Love for Code at Thomas College

Published: Friday, October 19, 2018

ryan bilodeau

Ryan Bilodeau ’19 has always enjoyed learning about science and computers, but it wasn’t until he became a Thomas College student that he began coding.  

He started out as a psychology major, and for the first few semesters he didn’t do so well with his classes. That changed when he switched his major to computer science. 

“That was definitely the right move. I started doing better in school and taught myself how to make apps for fun,” said Ryan.  

Two years later, the college senior has created his own app available on the Apple App Store.  

The app is called What’s My Tick, and it was inspired by an idea Ryan’s uncle, Dan Ladd, told him about at a family event earlier this year.  

“I agreed to make the app if he did all of the information gathering for it. We made it over the summer,” said Ryan. “The app uses the user’s photo of a tick, passes it through a convolutional neural network and determines which disease carrying tick it’s most likely to be based on the user’s location. It then tells the user which diseases the tick may carry, also based on the user’s location.”  

Ryan’s app is available for $1.99 on the Apple App Store. It’s already garnered press and reviews for its usefulness and the overall trend of preventing tick-borne illnesses in Maine.  

When asked if Ryan was proud of what he’d created, the 21-year-old said: “I haven’t really thought about being proud of it. I guess I’m proud that I taught myself how to make apps.” 

Ryan really enjoys making apps, so his dream job is to be a software developer. He graduates from Thomas College next May.  

He said experience at Thomas has garnered support and the right type of environment to be able to create his own app, such as the What’s My Tick app.  

“The classes I took at Thomas helped me understand the process of breaking down complex tasks into manageable parts,” said Ryan. “That’s the most important part of what I learned, how to break down a problem into little pieces. It’s hard to get much done dealing with the whole problem at once.” 

Ryan said the best part about the computer science program specifically is the professors. 

“Professor Grady and Professor Appunn have spent hours giving me their opinions and expertise.” 

Ryan may be a go-getter at 21, with his copyrighted app already on the market, but he wouldn’t have been able to do it without his Thomas community.  

“My favorite part about Thomas is how close everyone is. If I have an issue with something, there’s always someone I can ask for help.”  

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