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The Mount Vernon High School Students’ Mobile App Selected as 2018 Congressional App Challenge Winner


App winners with Congressman Engel A mobile application created by four students at The Mount Vernon High School was selected as a winner in the nationwide Congressional App Challenge. Representing the 16thCongressional District, the students’ application will receive sponsorship by Congressman Eliot Engel to compete against other congressional districts in Washington, D.C. The winning application may also be put on display in the U.S. Capitol Building for one year.

The Congressional App Challenge is a prestigious recognition for middle and high school students in the computer science field. The district-by-district competition is a result of the U.S. House of Representatives’ efforts to inspire students to pursue careers in computer science.

The students, Victoria Gomez-Small, Shamar Grant, Tasheem Brown, and Jordan Fields, are seniors in the high school’s computer science career and technical education (CTE) track and are enrolled in a CISCO course taught by Mr. Christopher Burnside. Their app, “PC Parts Organizer,” is designed to guide others on a curiosity trip to start building their own gaming computers.

A bill known as House Resolution 77 – Academic Competition Resolution of 2013 led to the creation of the competition that is transforming how Congress views computer science and STEM by fostering an appreciation for the industry. Since the competition launched in 2015, Congress’ mentions of computer science and coding have increased by 2,000 percent, according to the Challenge’s website.

“In three short years, we have inspired thousands of students nationwide to learn to code. With the support from their Member of Congress, these students have produced apps that address problems locally, nationally, and globally. The numbers don’t lie; each year we have increasing numbers of Congressional hosts and diverse student participants from underrepresented communities. By participating in the App Challenge, whether as a student participant or a Member of Congress, you join a nationwide movement to bring coding skills across the country — from Silicon Valley to Washington DC, from Mississippi to Alaska, and everywhere in between,” reads the website.

The four students and Burnside recently traveled to Congressman Engel’s office to meet with his chief-of-staff, Bill Weitz, and to discuss the next steps in the development of their app. There, Mr. Weitz provided the students with advice to improve their application and information on how to list it in the app store.

“Mr. Weitz spoke to the students about pursuing their goals and the importance of having grit,” said Burnside. “I think it was a very valuable experience for the students to interact with policymakers and understand how their in-classroom projects can have real-world applications and value.”

The students will continue to iterate on their application, which is still in the prototype phase.

On Dec. 16, the students will attend Congressman Engel’s holiday party and receive awards for their recent congressional selection.