Time for another #AskCAC Interview with one of your Members of Congress! This week, we spoke to Rep. Darin LaHood from Illinois’s 18th Congressional District. Rep. LaHood serves on the House Committee on Ways & Means and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Congressional App Challenge (CAC): Why do you think students should take part in the Congressional App Challenge?
Rep. LaHood: The Congressional App Challenge is vitally important for our students to take part in because it allows middle and high school students to explore the world of computer science, and hopefully encourage them to pursue a career in this field.
CAC: The App Challenge is a bipartisan initiative with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Why should members, regardless of their political affiliation, host App Challenges in their districts?
Rep. LaHood: The future of science and technology is a nonpartisan issue that should be pursued by people in every party. The United States is continuously becoming more technologically advanced, and getting students interested in this field at a young age will keep us on the right track.
CAC: We have students of all coding abilities participating in the Challenge. What advice do you have for students who may be hesitant to participate in the challenge because they don’t think they are strong enough coders?
Rep. LaHood: The App Challenge is a great way to expose yourself to a new field and creates a chance to learn new skills. I always encourage my three teenage boys to try new things, and even if coding does not become a career for a student getting involved, it can always lead to a new hobby they might have never tried in the first place.
CAC: Why is early intervention in STEM and computer science so important?
Rep. LaHood: There are ample sustainable careers in STEM and computer science not only in the country, but in the world as well. Getting involved early provides students the right tools they need to pursue a successful and valuable career.
CAC: This is the 7th year that we are holding the App Challenge in the United States. What do you think the long-term benefits of holding the App Challenge are?
Rep. LaHood: The long-term benefits speak for themselves. Any of these students getting involved in coding at a young age have the potential to become leaders in an industry that is quickly growing and becoming more and more important.
CAC: The switch to online learning this past year revealed the significant digital divide across the country. How do you think Congress should address the digital divide, whether it be increasing rural broadband infrastructure or ensuring affordable access in urban centers?
Rep. LaHood: Representing a large rural district in central and west-central Illinois, access to broadband is an important topic to me. The Congressional App Challenge grants students the opportunity to work on solutions firsthand, laying the groundwork they can build off of down the road and work towards addressing these major issues.
Remember, the App Challenge is live so students can register and submit their apps between now and November 1st!
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