Jonathan Damico ’18 balances coding, robotics and business


Jonathan Damico ’18 writes code in the robotics room. Credit: Isabelle Eshraghi/Chronicle

Isabelle Eshraghi

In the robotics room, a 3D printer beeps and whirrs, robots perch on every surface possible and students are hard at work preparing for another robotics competition. Members of the robotics team are working on improving their robots after a victory at their last tournament, made possible by the code-writing skills of Jonathan Damico ’18.

Damico said he has always had an interest in software development and programming. When he was in elementary school, Damico attended a summer course in Java that began years of technological endeavors.

“I thought it was really interesting to be able to solve problems in pieces of code. I kind of just took it from there. Whenever I had a problem on my computer that wasn’t something that was default in the computer that I could fix, I would always try to write software from it,” Damico said.

Damico’s programming skills as a current member of the Upper School robotics team and a former member of the Middle School robotics team have led the team to win numerous competitions.

Out of all of the different groups he is a part of, including his business, DJ Unlimited, and the Harvard-Westlake EdTech Committee, Damico said his favorite is the robotics team.

“I love working the most on the robotics team. I think [my teammates] are all great guys and they all have great ideas. They give me a lot of freedom to write code, which is brilliant. I love all of the people I work with, and they’re all really helpful,” Damico said.

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Cameron Schiller ’18, a member of the robotics team, said that the team relied on Damico’s code-writing prowess to generate code for their tournaments. Damico has constructed the robotics websites for both the Middle School and Upper School and is a Google Glass Developer with Schiller.

“He’s the guy that does all the programming for our robotics team. [Jonathan] is amazing at programming, he’s ridiculously good. If I [say] ‘Hey Jon, could you write a program to do this really quick?’ he’ll be like ‘yeah sure, I already did it’. He is insanely fast and he knows his way around a computer really well,” Schiller said.

Damico’s AP Computer Science teacher Kevin Weis said that Damico works hard and demonstrates the extent of his coding skills every day.

“He is easily the best coder in my two computer science classes. He probably knows more than I do, […] he’s got lots and lots of experience,” Weis said.

Damico also runs a business, DJ Unlimited, with DJ Lesh ’18. DJ Unlimited provides lighting and DJ services throughout Los Angeles. Damico said that he has learned a lot about business from this undertaking.

“It’s always fun to have mini endeavors and businesses and stuff. It’s nice to know a little better about business management, and it’s something you can put in your resume,” Damico said. “It’s something great and fun, but what I’ve learned the most from all of my little endeavors is just always thinking about who is going to be using the product,  always thinking about the client and the customer is important”.

Because of his involvement in so many different endeavors, Damico said he often found that he didn’t have enough time to prioritize everything.

“[My] lack of time is kind of huge, I feel like I am not able to really devote a lot of my time to one big thing,” Damico said. “It’s great to be able to work on multiple projects […], but there’s always that challenge of finding time to give to all of these different projects because they all need a lot of resources”.

Damico is currently focusing on the upcoming VEX/PLTW Inland Empire VEX Skills Challenge robotics competition on Jan. 23 as well as making improvements to the school schedule app, iHW, which he created.

“Number one on my list right now is getting our robotics team’s code together for our next tournament, and then number two would definitely be to fix [the] iHW screen-savers around campus,” Damico said.