Rep. Andy Biggs has named Chloe Zhan, an 11th Grader at Hamilton High School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Arizona’s Fifth District.
When asked what inspired the creation of IrriSmart, the student said, ”Growing up in Arizona, I’ve witnessed constant water shortages plaguing our region, which have only been getting worse. In fact, Arizona is currently in its 27th year of a long term megadrought, and next year, Arizona will face some of its most drastic water cuts and lose 21% of its water from the Colorado River Basin. These water cuts will most severely impact the farmers in our region. Moreover, water shortage is not only a local issue but also a global issue. According to UNICEF, half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025. Many of these countries most affected by water scarcity are also those in developing regions in the Middle East and Africa. After learning about this, I decided to develop IrriSmart, a web application which provides farmers a precise calculation of necessary irrigation amount. Because much water is currently wasted during irrigation, IrriSmart can save thousands of gallons of water while still achieving high crop yield. Current smart irrigation systems which determine the necessary irrigation amount typically come with an initial investment cost and also require training to set up the sensor system, making farmers less likely to use this method. On the other hand, farmers only need to input a few parameters on IrriSmart (such as farm location, size, and crop planting date) to obtain a quick and accurate estimation of necessary irrigation amount. Free, accessible, irrigation management apps such as IrriSmart which utilize the increasing amount of data around us will be essential in a water scarce future, especially in drought-stricken developing nations.”
The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent.
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, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.
The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.