The human robot exists

Ryan Gaus, an 18-year-old from Baldwinsville, is a tech genius who builds code, produces apps, and much more.

Trick or treating has become a digital event with the invention of the app, Crowd Candy. Not only can the users of the app vote on how well the candy selection is at neighborhood houses, but they can vote on how wicked they are, too. Creator of Crowd Candy, Ryan Gaus, an 18 year old from Baldwinsville produced the app at the fall hackathon event in 2013.

Although he was not costumed or participating in candy collecting, Gaus programmed the app for the pure enjoyment of writing code. His love for computer language began when he was young, about four to be exact.

The year was 2002 when a Mac was called Macintosh and modern advancements were Microsoft Word Art and Minesweeper. For preschooler, Ryan Gaus, his interest was not in pixilated, Pac Man caricatures that could pass as primitive emojis, but in the reason why these programs existed: computer code.

After playing with a bulky, teal-accented Macintosh desktop at school in Baldwinsville, he was intrigued. “I remember using the computer and thinking, ‘This is all bound by rules,’ and I wanted to understand what was going on,” Gaus said. “So I went home and just started doing research.”

If anyone remembers what they created during preschool, it probably involved magic markers and finger paints. Creativity stemmed from an empirical standpoint for Gaus, which people in their 20s may still be developing.

“Up until recently, I’ve been living off of what I got for birthdays or Christmases,” he said. “So because of that, anytime I want to spend money, I do a ton of research to make sure that I’m spending money on the right thing.”

Struggling to make his way in the world as a toddler, Gaus said he always aspired to make money with the knowledge he gains.

During his youth, Gaus created software and applications across diverse hobbies. His first working creation was a painting app he made when he was 10 years old.

Having parents who are both engineers gave Gaus a predisposition for technology, he said. His father, Bob, just retired from Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer and his mother, Nancy, worked as an electrical engineer before undergoing a career recourse and becoming a seamstress.

Family is more of a blithe entity for Gaus. As a child, he said his father gave him computer programming books, but their differing interests did not result in an aspiring connection. Now, on his own and living in downtown Syracuse, Gaus said he keeps his distance and maintains a casual relationship with his family.

“They’re nice people,” he said.

Back in junior high and high school, casual connections continued between Gaus and his peers. One classmate, Sam Stone, connected with Gaus on a technological level.

The two collaborated within the robotics team, computer science club, and personal projects such as a quad copter. Stone was even the emcee for Gaus’ Eagle Scout ceremony.

Building what seemed to be a close friendship in high school, Stone recalls their relationship as mainly tech-focused, but the two still converse regularly while Stone is studying at Binghamton.

“If you ask him how [Ryan] is on any day his response is, ‘Moderate,’” Stone said. “Even his high school yearbook quote was ‘Moderate.’”

After leaving his high school part-time job at Lono, a sprinkler company specializing in underground sensors, Gaus began working at Density, a small business start-up located in the Tech Garden downtown.

Moving to Density prolongs his collegiate option, which involves a partial scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology. Gaus said he is deferring his decision until next fall because he enjoys his programming position at the Tech Garden.

Working in a room with cement floors and white desks, Gaus’ day is consumed with coding software for overhead door sensors. When Gaus is not squinting at a computer screen, he takes the occasional look out at the urban traffic on Jefferson and Warren.

Gaus’s affiliation with the Tech Garden began with his successes at Hack Upstate. A semiannual event created by Mitchell Patterson and Doug Crescenzi back in 2012, Hack Upstate is a 24-hour hackathon where tech enthusiasts collaborate and create software.

Participating in his first hackathon when he was 15 years old, Gaus made a unique impression when he met with Patterson.

“I remembered meeting him and his father, and right away I looked at Ryan and I was like, ‘How old are you?’” Patterson said.

Over the years, Gaus has continued to take first place at Hack Upstate, but came short of winning this fall due to computer complications.

The project, a collaboration between Gaus, Peter Butler-Smith, and local rapper, Seth Dollar Colton, was a visualization tool where words spoken into a microphone appeared as text and images onto a screen.

The three met at Syracuse CoWorks and when they came together to discuss the idea, Colton said he was surprised by Gaus’s young age.

“I saw him as a young kid who’s trying to make his way,” Colton said. “And I embraced it because I started financing my own studio sessions when I was 14, so I could relate to the journey being that young and already having for many things going on.”

To say Gaus is focused and efficient would be an understatement.

Every morning begins at 6 a.m. with coffee in hand and computer in lap. For many, streaming social media is next to waking up to a sunrise, but Gaus avoids distraction. He works from home, goes to the Tech Garden for real work at 8:30 a.m. and comes home to decompress by tying up the loose ends from the day.

His day does not continue into the night with extraneous activities. Gaus said he is not a video gamer and needs to go to sleep early.

“I don’t typically stay up super late because my productivity goes down the drain after 10 or 10:30 p.m.,” he said.

When Gaus is not writing code, he increases his skills in cooking, photography, metal-working and wood-working. However, these hobbies are merely an extension of programming, he said.

"For me, hobbies are a way of trying something out that in the end, I somehow gain knowledge from it,” Gaus said. “And somehow all of my hobbies relate back to code like I find something wrong with the hobby and I write an app for it.”

If anyone remembers what they were doing when they were 18, it may have involved Friday night outings, a research paper, or a shift at the campus coffee shop. For Gaus, it means waking up every day with the expectation of solving the world’s technological problems.

“I firmly believe that any problem can be fixed with software,” Gaus said.

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