Mason Wolters: Coder and College Sailor

Mason Wolters is a sophomore at the University of Michigan who can do pretty much everything except name the Hogwarts houses. He is studying Computer Science, and his extracurricular activities include being co-captain of Michigan’s Sailing Team and making iPhone apps. Here’s how he got started:

 

Her Campus: When did you learn to code, and how did that shape your life?

Mason Wolters: When I asked for a robot for my fifth birthday, my parents bought me a Lego robotics set and told me to build my own. I developed an interest in coding through learning how to program that robot. I, then, spent a long time teaching myself how to code iPhone apps when I was in high school, and I haven’t stopped since. Knowing that I’m able to create something from scratch that has the potential to be used by millions of people has created an insanely strong drive within me, and I spend almost all of my spare time working on my next project. 

 

HC: What opportunities have you been afforded for coding, being at U of M?

MW: U of M has given me the opportunity to work with like-minded people at events like MHacks. I also got an internship at Apple last summer through U of M, and that was an awesome experience.

 

HC: Tell me about the iPhone app you developed.

MW: SailBot is a product I developed that is essentially an air horn to start sailing races that you control with your iPhone. The idea came about after being frustrated with the limitations of the current solutions on the market. I wanted to make something that was dead simple compared to the complicated solutions that already exist, but I still wanted to offer some more advanced functionality. My target audience is admittedly very small, as sailing is a very niche market. However, I have experienced some success in selling them with very little effort put into marketing so far. I’m hoping to streamline my production process and to sell internationally in the future.

 

HC: Are you working on another app?

MW: I’m currently working on another iPhone app called Slope that I’m super excited about. It’s an app that allows you to track your expenses and gain insight into how you spend your money in an intuitive way that is so much better than any existing app. Look for it this coming out in the fall; it’s going to be free!

 

HC: Why did you join Michigan’s Sailing Team?  How do you balance your time between school and sailing?

MW: To keep myself from turning into a coding hermit, I’m a part of the sailing team. I’ve had a ton of great experiences on the team, a lot of which are from traveling all over the country to compete at a very high level of collegiate sailing. I’m extremely passionate about sailing, and I decided to run for captain so that I can use that passion to help improve the team and to advance it to the next level of college sailing. One of the biggest challenges is definitely finding a balance between sailing, school, and coding. I, by far, spend most of my time working on my personal endeavors, so sailing tends to cut into that. I can often be found coding in the car on our long drives to Charleston to compensate. 

 

HC: Do you have a favorite sailing memory?

MW: Easily, my favorite day of sailing was a few summers ago on my small home lake. A few friends and I took out a 420 with a trapeze for the first time ever when it was blowing, like, 25 knots. None of us really knew what we were doing, which made ripping around the lake that much more fun.

 

HC: Can you talk about somebody who inspires you?

MW: It’s cliché, but Steve Jobs is a big inspiration to me. I’m always amazed by the vision he had and how he was able to see things in a way that nobody else could.

 

HC: Do you have a fun fact about yourself?

MW: I like to make videos, and I have a YouTube channel with half a million views (somehow).