"Instantly I said in my mind, 'Door No. 2,'" Grand told CNN. He started his daily lessons with an energetic software engineer named Patrick McConlogue and found it clicked for him right away. He say he has always had a passion for science and developed a similar drive for coding, which he did hours a day, anywhere he could.
"He just has something about him," McConlogue told CNN when describing the first time he met Grand. "I remember thinking in my head, 'Huh, who is this guy?' This guy's not done."
Grand decided to use his new coding skills to develop a mobile app that would help people hitch rides with others who are interested in cutting down on carbon emissions.
"This is what life is supposed to be like," Grand said, motioning to the greenery around him. "I want to be around plants and trees and I want to breathe the most oxygen as possible."
But before his dream of selling an app became a reality, Grand faced a serious bump in the road. In October, he was arrested for sleeping on a bench and had his computer taken away.
Logan Ury, a Google employee who had been following Grand's story, flew cross-country and gave him one of her own laptops to continue his work.
“At the end of the day, if you didn’t go to college but you write elegant and efficient code -- that’s what engineering is,” Ury told CNN.
If he makes enough money, Grand said he would like to get himself an apartment. For now, he's surviving the chilly New York weather by taking refuge in train stations and bundling up with a bunch of blankets.
He manages to keep a positive outlook and attributes his good attitude to "faith, prayer -- it works, try it!”
Hear more from Grand in the video below where he announces his new app: