OpenVaxx wins Rep. C. “Dutch” Ruppersberger’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Second District

Rep. C. “Dutch” Ruppersberger has named Cooper Werner from Western School of Technology and Environmental Science as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Second District.


When asked what inspired the creation of OpenVaxx, the student said, “I was inspired to create this app after debating with my parents about the necessity and security behind a system that businesses could use to verify the vaccine status of customers. My parents agreed with me on the necessity of the system, many experts have said that the way the U.S. currently handles determining vaccinated customers requires putting a lot of trust into the U.S. population. For most of the population, this is a non-issue, but that minority of people who may make this an issue can cause trouble for everyone else. What my parents and I disagreed on was the safety, security, and anonymity of a vaccine passport. They voiced understandable concerns, citing how businesses could start to link your shopping patterns to your health records. Data breaches and how we can trust that the vaccine information is correct were big issues too. I responded by saying that those concerns could be addressed through careful planning and development. I set out to develop OpenVaxx to demonstrate a safe, secure, and anonymous vaccine passport is viable if planned correctly and developed with lots of thought and care regarding the security of the system.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official 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. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.