Brain Buggy Wins Rep. Speier’s (CA-14) 2019 Congressional App Challenge

Rep. Jackie Speier has named a Hillsborough student as the winner of the Congressional App Challenge in California’s 14th district. San Mateo High School’s Manya Goutam submitted Brain Buggy, a mind-controlled robotic wheel chair app to help paralyzed military veterans and other patients move around by simply using their brain waves to instruct the wheelchair to move in their desired direction.

When asked why they were passionate about creating an app that aids paralyzed persons the student replied, “I had recently seen a cool exhibit at the San Jose Tech Museum where they displayed a headset with an EEG sensor that measured the electrical signals generated in a human’s brain. I got to actually try it out and discovered it was able to accurately interpret various moods of mine, including happiness, focus & attention, as well as meditation. As I tinkered with the headset, I wondered if these brain waves could be used to move a physical object like a wheelchair, especially for quadriplegic patients, who are unable to move any of their limbs.” The student hopes to encourage other students to better their communities by using their computer science skills.  

Over 10,000 students registered for the 2019 Congressional App Challenge. These students created and submitted 2,177 functioning apps, marking the end of the most successful Congressional App Challenge to date. All told, 304 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 48 states, Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The CAC is an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. The non-profit Internet Education Foundation provides the CAC with supplemental staffing and support. In the five years of the Congressional App Challenge, the program has yielded 1134 App Challenges across 48 states. Thousands of functional apps have been created by over 25,000 students, and participant demographics surpass all industry diversity metrics.