NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 8, 2012

Raising the bar

By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
Correspondent

---- — BYFIELD — While many of us are frustrated just trying to do simple programming on our cellphones, Triton Regional School district sophomore Nick Amello is happily building computers from scratch and writing code to run those computers. That special talent recently led him to write most of the code for the Triton textbook barcode system, saving the district thousands of dollars.

Amello, who lives in Rowley, worked on the programming code as part of an independent study project, under the direction of his program advisor at the school Kathy Norton and Scott Dube, the school’s technology/engineering teacher. Coincidentally, Amello asked for an additional project at the same time that Norton, Dube and school librarian Andrea Sargent were exploring the options for an automated system to track classroom textbooks. The cost was too prohibitive, so they were looking for another way to get the job done. So, despite a full load of coursework, Amello took on the project at the end of the 2012 school year.

“Nick took off and ran with the project and did the coding through the summer, even though he didn’t have to,” said Norton. “It’s exciting to work with him because he’s such a talented programmer.”

With the new barcode system, the program will help teachers keep track of which student has which textbook, eliminating the labor-intensive method of recording it all on paper. This streamlines tracking items throughout the year and at the end of the year, said Amello, who earned college credits for developing the system and is waiting to hear about a patent on the product.

The program is now being tested in select classes, with anticipated availability for all at the start of the new school year. “It’s a wonderful to have saved the district money by creating this system in-house; it’s cost-effective and eliminates a tremendous amount of record-keeping,” said Sargent.

For Amello, coding and computers have been a part of his life since he was 10 years old, inspired by his curiosity. As he explains, he was playing games on the computer and wanted to be able to say “I created this,” so he examined how others were doing it and started doing it himself. To his credit, he has developed a Web browser like Internet Explorer and is now working on an anti-virus suite, and he has filed for patents for his work under his company Avia Creations, which his mom Anne Marie helps manage.

“We’re excited when kids like Nick take the initiative – he elected to take on this project which was more work for him – because it shows passion and drive, which is what we try to instill in all the kids that are here at Triton,” said Norton.