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'Congressional App Challenge' Aims to Cultivate Students' Computer Science Innovation

By guest blogger Victoria O'Dea

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have created a new competition to discover the best young app designers and programmers in their congressional districts.

The House passed the Academic Competition Resolution of 2013 late last month. The resolution establishes an annual competition intended to promote and recognize student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math—or the STEM fields.

The competition is expected to evolve over time, based on need, but backers of the effort say the initial focus of the competition will be on computer science—a field where qualified workers are in high demand.

High school and college students will have a chance to show off their coding skills in the competition, called the "Congressional App Challenge," where they will compete to develop the best apps for mobile, tablet and computer platforms.

The bipartisan resolution was sponsored by House Representative Candice Miller and passed in the House with an overwhelming majority vote of 411 to 3. The measure, as a simple resolution, does not need approval by the Senate to take effect. The Committee on House Administration is currently in the process of establishing the regulations for the new competition.

"Although small, I believe that this competition is an important step towards raising national awareness and inspiring today's youth," said Miller in a press statement.

The Congressional App Challenge is modeled on the Congressional Art Competition. More than 650,000 high school students have participated in the that competition since its inception in 1982. The winning artwork is displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

Salley Wood, a spokesperson for the Committee on House Administration, told Education Week that it is likely the winners of the Congressional App Challenge will be recognized in a similar fashion.

"We assume it will mirror the Congressional Art Competition, but the nature of this program is different, so winners might be recognized in a different way," said Wood.

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