OtoScan wins Rep. Gerald Connolly’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s 11th District
Rep. Gerald Connolly has named Lakshmi Sritan Motati of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Omkar Kovvali of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s 11th District.
When asked what inspired the creation of OtoScan, the students said, ”Omkar: My brother had a lot of ear issues growing up and had to get multiple ear surgeries done. Thus, I realized the importance of ear health and otolaryngology very early on. When I looked more into this field and saw that otitis media, the second most important cause of hearing loss, affected roughly 1.3 billion people in 2013, I knew that I wanted to make an impact on something that affects so many people around me. There are no current options on the market that allow for inexpensive, accessible and rapid diagnosis with the touch of a button.
There was not a viable option that both captured images of the ear and diagnosed them, which gave us the idea to create one ourselves.
Sritan: As someone whose relatives all live in remote villages in India that lack the highest quality of medical care or expertise, I am always trying to work on projects that use translational medical science and technologies such as machine learning to make expensive tasks much more accessible and cost efficient. Additionally, the fact that otitis media is more prevalent in areas with less ENT specialists and proper healthcare inspired me to take up such an initiative to help people like those close to me (both in the United States and globally).
Together, we wanted to make a true impact and take a large step towards significantly reducing the number of people who face hearing complications due to otitis media by tailoring the solution to those who need it the most: low-income communities and areas with insufficient healthcare systems. We wanted to combine the latest advancements in bioengineering, telemedicine, and machine learning (+ computer vision) to create a product that helps millions.”
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.