Jacob Zarobsky, a senior at Bremen High School in Midlothian, develops computer applications and sells them online. | Supplied photo by Jasmine Silva
Updated: April 11, 2014 6:02AM
Many smartphone applications are developed by software geniuses in the workplace.
But sometimes a software wizard who is still in high school already has developed and is selling computer apps online.
Jacob Zarobsky, a senior at Bremen High School in Midlothian, is just that kind of computer wizard.
“Jacob is brilliant at creating [computer] programs,” Bremen Assistant Principal Joseph A. Simone said. “He created several programs/applications that are currently utilized by Bremen staff and students in the areas of activity recruitment, math support and coaching resources.”
Zarobsky offers an app called SplitKeeper for free in the iTunes App Store. It keeps track of times for cross country races. In April, he launched a program called Simplify, which he developed for trigonometry students and which sells in the App Store for 99 cents.
Zarobsky, 17, inherited his love of computers from his parents, Karen and Dennis Zarobsky, of Posen, who both work in information technology.
“But I was the first to learn how to program,” said Zarobsky, who taught himself the skill from various online tutorials.
As a sophomore at Bremen, he took a computer science class and followed up with a second class as a junior.
The Simplify app calculates square roots into their simplest terms.
“I wrote it so that students in basic algebra classes can easily find a square root and provide the number in the simplest terms. The app shows them the work, not just the answer, so that students can learn from it,” said Zarobsky, who admits it was difficult trying to figure out how to do it. “When I started programming I thought it would be a fun puzzle to figure it out. Once I figured out the algorithm, it was a pretty straightforward process.”
Based on Zarobsky’s course load and activities, it might be difficult to believe he has any time to develop apps. He is president of the National Honor Society and the computer club as well as captain of the Scholastic Bowl team. He is also a member of the cross country team, the Braves tutoring program, the freshman mentor program, mathletes and photography club.
Outside the classroom, Zarobsky spearheads the annual Bremen Food Drive. He recently was awarded with the prestigious Vicariate V Youth Leadership award from the Archdiocese of Chicago for his service to the community.
Zarobsky plans to pursue a computer science degree in college. He said he has received scholarship offers of $25,000 per year from Illinois Institute of Technology and a full ride from the University of Alabama. He also has applied to the University of Illinois.
He is considering attending graduate school after college, where he can work with “more complex mathematics in computer science with researchers and trying to figure out problems,” he said.
“[Jacob] relishes the opportunity to provide solutions to problems by reducing them down to nothing,” said Simone, noting that Zarobsky scored a 33 on his ACT exam and recently was named an Illinois State Scholar. “Jacob is a great asset to Bremen as he is to the greater community for his commitment to service and problem-solving.”
Zarobsky said he derives plenty of inspiration and support from his parents.
“Both my parents have excellent work ethics,” he said. “I have a very good relationship with them. I talk with them and they tell me what they think I should do and it keeps me focused on what I should be doing.”
Zarobsky also has an idol.
“I was always fascinated with Steve Jobs, who inspired me to try and make things better, and he changed the world by doing it,” Zarobsky said.