Meet the technology prodigy who hacked our high school

February 2, 2023

Cherry Hill East alum Conrad Kramer developed Apple Shortcuts before the age of 19

Courtesy of the Courier Post

Cherry Hill East alum Conrad Kramer developed Apple Shortcuts before the age of 19

Imagine you are roaming the halls of your high school, scrolling through pictures on Instagram, and out of nowhere, every single picture becomes the very same picture of a goat.

Conrad Kramer (‘14) pulled this exact prank nearly a decade ago during his time at Cherry Hill East. Kramer utilized his advanced technical abilities in multiple such endeavors throughout his time at East, always with humorous intentions. Since then, Kramer has stopped using his technological gifts to pull pranks and is now a software engineer and technologist.

Kramer developed his love for technology at a young age, helping his father repair broken computers bought off of Craigslist. From there, Kramer acquired a taste for programming and started to develop programs on his phone, even creating a system that automatically texted him the weather every day. This was before specific mobile applications for weather reports, making Kramer’s innovation groundbreaking.

“I basically learned everything I know about programming from the internet and from Youtube,” said Kramer. “I had a lot of friends on IRC – which is an old chat protocol that I used – and asked them programming questions and they would help me, so I kind of learned that way.”

Kramer continued to gain more programming knowledge throughout high school, eventually receiving acceptance into the billionaire entrepreneur Robert Thiel’s competitive THIEL Fellowship. This program is for students who do not want to go through the traditional educational route of college. The 20 to 30 people accepted into the THIEL fellowship every year are not allowed to attend college for the program’s two-year duration and receive $100,000 to start or build upon their innovative ventures.

Shortcuts, created by Kramer, allows different apps to work together in order to complete tasks more efficiently (Courtesy of Apple)

While completing the fellowship, Kramer moved to San Francisco, CA, and started a company with a group of friends, which they maintained for about three and a half years. Working for the company, Kramer created Workflow, a mobile app that integrates other mobile applications in order to organize tasks. In 2017, Workflow was acquired by Apple, which renamed it as Apple Shortcuts. In 2015, Workflow won the Apple Design Award. When Apple bought their company, Kramer and his two teammates, Ari Weinstein and Nick Frey joined the Apple team.

Recently, Kramer decided to move on from his position as a software engineering manager at Apple and take a break from the inflexibility of working for a corporation. By his own admission, Kramer dislikes working for “the man” and prefers building software and being his own employer.

“Everyone thinks Apple does this or Apple does that, but Apple doesn’t do anything,” said Kramer. “People at Apple do all these things.”

Kramer is currently attending the Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Fellowship at Harvard, which trains its participants to use technology to make progress in public policy through individual projects. Kramers’s research for the duration of the fellowship centers around solar energy and how to make solar energy more affordable. After finishing the fellowship, Kramer plans on starting a new technology company.

Reflecting on his past 10 years in the technology industry, Kramer believes that a good mentor is extremely beneficial to those looking to dive into the field. He also thinks that those looking to enter the industry need to truly understand what they want out of their work. For some, working at a huge tech conglomerate is the dream of a lifetime, while others simply want to fulfill their passions through coding. With the number of tech companies dominating the industry, Kramer also believes that engineers need to think hard about their morals. Kramer believes while you can always get a new job, it is hard to recover your morals.

For Kramer, the most important concept for aspiring engineers to understand is that if they want to learn something, they can.

“If there’s anything you want to learn, you can at least get started on the internet,” said Kramer.

Although college may lead to success for some, Kramer had the motivation as a kid to take his learning into his own hands, which has allowed him to go from pulling pranks on his fellow classmates to developing an app on every iPhone today.

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