In a record-breaking year for the 2023 Congressional App Challenge, young innovators not only showcased their coding prowess but also embraced the transformative power of artificial intelligence. As a nationwide competition encouraging students to pursue careers in STEM and computer science, artificial intelligence presents an opportunity to empower a broader audience to engage in coding.
According to Grand View research, the global artificial intelligence market is projected to expand 37.3% from 2023 to 2030. In supporting this wave of innovation, we collaborated with the App Inventor Foundation through their MIT App Inventor project to host a workshop on generative AI, the name for any model that creates new output from patterns learned. The MIT App Inventor Project is an amazing initiative whose platform is one of the most commonly used by App Challengers.
“I always recommend App Inventor because that was the first programming experience I ever had. And I think it was very user friendly, it made me less scared of programming.” – MIT Student
This workshop taught attendees how to build and customize a generative AI chatbot app with App Inventor and ChatGPT. Throughout the event, MIT students showcased the different ways these components could be adjusted for various purposes with their own creations such as recommendations for mental health wellness or a chatbot that could assume different roles to give advice. It attracted over 250 students, reflecting the eagerness surrounding AI literacy and its integration into different aspects of technological problem-solving, as well as its increasing significance in shaping the coding landscape. If you’re interested in seeing the workshop firsthand, you can find the recording here!
“…through App Inventor, we not only want students to learn about how to build apps, but also to practice other skills that are critical to succeeding in any field that they decide to pursue.” – MIT Student
Embracing artificial intelligence empowers developers in this evolving field to build intelligent, efficient, and user-centric applications that positively impact various domains. In this year’s Congressional App Challenge, 66% of the submitted apps were dedicated to civic improvement. Of those, over 25% harnessed the power of artificial intelligence. This is a substantial increase in AI integration from previous App Challenge years and follows the findings of a GitHub survey conducted by Wakefield Research, which found that 92% of U.S.-based developers already use AI coding tools, and 70% believe these tools will advance their capabilities. The Congressional App Challenge reflects a new generation of American tech-savvy leaders who are not just coding for the future but coding with the future in mind.
Remarkably, over 20% of students utilizing artificial intelligence in their apps identified as beginners to coding, dispelling the notion that AI is only accessible to seasoned developers. Not only that but students who delved into artificial intelligence were found to be 10% more likely to continue their coding journey, showcasing the potential of AI as a gateway to sustained interest in programming. Artificial Intelligence has already taken root and is vital in driving innovation and addressing the evolving needs of a technology-driven world. Our App Challengers are only a reflection of the potential of artificial intelligence.
As we look forward to the culmination of this year’s Congressional App Challenge at #HouseOfCode in April of 2024, an event celebrating the yet-to-be-announced winners of the Challenge, we’re looking for ways to foster this growing interest in AI through potential Red Teaming. Red Teaming, the testing of the digital capabilities of a website, hints at a unique opportunity for app challengers to assess and enhance the AI and data management pages of Congress.
The 2023 Congressional App Challenge stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of technology. As these young coders redefine the boundaries of what’s possible, the future of STEM and computer science is set to be driven by innovation, inclusivity, and a commitment to community support.
For more information about the Congressional App Challenge, please visit CongressionalAppChallenge.us.