Everyday People: Ryan Nair

Teenage entrepreneur and computer science major Ryan Nair built an app that has caught Apple’s attention.

photo of Ryan Nair holding a plate with a slice of pizza in front of a campus dining spot by Cardoni



After starting at Penn State in 2022, Ryan Nair and a few friends noticed many students eating alone in the dining halls. So, during HackPSU Spring 2023, they hatched an idea for an app called Meet & Eat, which matches students based on preferred mealtimes and locations. (It also offers contact information and conversation starters, such as shared interests, along with menus.) Their idea won the grand prize and the “social impact” challenge: By reducing loneliness, they hope the app can improve mental health. “We wanted something to build connections,” says Nair, who was responsible for the coding. “It’s especially valuable for people who don’t know anybody and are struggling to be social.”



After the hackathon, Nair submitted the prototype to the Swift Student Challenge, Apple’s annual competition for student developers. In June, he was among nine winners invited to present their ideas to company executives at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. At the time, Nair was 18 years old and the second-youngest developer there. “Tim Cook thought my idea was something that was already in the App Store and being used by students,” he says, explaining that the high praise from the Apple CEO motivated Nair to spend the rest of summer finishing it.



The app, which is free, has been available to download since October; he’s also programmed it for two other colleges and would love to expand to more campuses.



Nair’s commitment to community service includes volunteer work at New Jersey food banks and shelters.



Interning at a tech company is Nair’s next goal. But, more importantly, he wants to find meaningful work that does some good: “I just want to build something that is a joy for people to use.”  


Hometown: West Caldwell, N.J.

Claim to Fame: 2023 Apple Swift Student Challenge winner   

Campus: University Park

Hobbies: Biking, playing piano, bowling, and tennis

New Skills: Nair is looking forward to taking AI and app development courses at Penn State.