ParkinSense wins Rep. Jahana Hayes’ 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Connecticut’s Fifth District

Rep. Jahana Hayes has named Diya Girish Kumar of Brookfield High School and Pulkith Paruchuri of Heritage High School as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Connecticut’s Fifth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of ParkinSense, the students said, ”The chance of an elderly person developing Parkinson’s Disease is around 2%.
The chance of two people developing Parkinson’s disease is 0.04%.
That is less than the chance of flipping a coin, and landing heads, ten times in a row.
Implausible, but not impossible.
Implausible defines one of our friend’s paternal grandparents. Both developed Parkinson’s Disease within 3 years. While their minds were degenerating at an accelerated pace, he devoted his time to studying the mind.
His grandparents, especially his grandfather, had a late diagnosis, as a result of the associated barriers, especially the lack of healthcare in his region. When he was diagnosed, the disease had already substantially progressed. My friend saw as my grandparent went to treatment after treatment with little help, and he began to lose control of his body.

I had already become interested in Neuroscience and technology in middle school. My friend’s dedication engulfed me as well, and I became interested in the issue of Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis and research. We began working together, although working in slightly different directions. Initially, I was focused on gene-based approaches to diagnosis, because little was known about that, but they seemed promising. However, I later transitioned to a contactless approach, because of the necessity of such an option, and because despite their potential, little has been done with them. A few months later, when my friend had to put his research on pause because of college, I continued his efforts.

I was inspired to pursue the application when I had others approach me, willing to mentor me or help me. From then on, I knew I was doing something that could greatly impact humanity. This became increasingly apparent, as I began working with multiple universities and organizations, and the professors complimented me for my efforts and were themselves quite interested in what I was working on.

I hope this paves the way for more accessible diagnosis, especially in third-world countries and poverty-stricken areas without access to healthcare. I hope I can use the application to diagnose individuals like my friend’s grandparents much earlier and let them live the more comfortable life they deserve. However, perhaps more importantly, I hope that I can inspire or lead to similar inventions in other related fields that could massively benefit from such a creation. For example, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disease patients may see great benefits in a similar application.”

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.