Rep. Katie Porter has named two Irvine students as the winner of the Congressional App Challenge in California’s 45th district. Portola High School’s Stephanie Zhang and Minsoo Kang submitted Blossom, a novel drug discovery app that uses multilayered machine learning algorithms to predict hotspots on protein complexes.
When asked why they were passionate about creating an app that focuses on drug discovery the students replied, “Working directly in the drug development line, Stephanie was able to first-hand see the shortcomings of the status quo in traditional laboratory methods, and saw the potential for artificial intelligence applications to optimize the process of detecting hotspots.” They hope 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.