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Compete in the Congressional App Challenge

October 16, 2016
Blog Post

We live in a period of human history unlike any other. Technology has not only changed the way we communicate with each other, but it has also changed how we work, travel, and so much more.

Advances in technology have allowed for new industries to grow and rapidly change the American workforce. As a result, many factory jobs require more than a high school diploma. The manufacturing jobs of today require more knowledge of computer coding and technical expertise than were previously necessary.

According to, there are currently 1,642 open computing jobs in the state of Arkansas, but only 272 computer graduates statewide.

In order to keep up with demand in computer sciences, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has introduced computer science education available in all Arkansas high schools. His initiative sets K-12 computer science standards and provides dedicated state funding for implementation. The governor’s work on computer science education is the start of what I believe will be exponential growth in computer science like we have not yet experienced in Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson is ahead of the curve and his efforts will position Arkansas well to compete for the jobs of the 21st Century.

For the students who have taken a deep interest in coding – whether skilled or novice coders – there is a place where they can highlight their talents for the state and the country to see. I am talking about the Congressional App Challenge. The App Challenge is a competition aimed at encouraging U.S. high school students to learn how to code by creating their own smartphone and tablet applications. The Challenge is intended to highlight the value of computer science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and encourage students to engage in these fields. By encouraging and recognizing our nation’s young programming talent, Congress hopes to shine a light on the growing importance of these skills just as Gov. Hutchinson has through his efforts.

Last year was my first year to host a district-wide app competition, with a total of 11 apps submitted. The winning app, “ARSchools,” was created by Hamburg High School Students Ana Cruz, Star Lowrey, Shelly Whitt, and Drake Streeter and is currently on display in the U.S. Capitol along with other winning apps from congressional districts across the country.

I hope this year’s App Challenge has even more entries. Building your own app simply takes creativity, attention to detail, and the will to succeed. Even those with limited coding skills can create an app with the assistance of online app builders, allowing students at all coding levels to bring great ideas to life.

To learn more about the Congressional App Competition, visit my website and click “App Challenge” under the “Services” tab. Individual and group entries are due November 2. Judging will take place in the month following.

I look forward to seeing the creativity of the Fourth District’s students in the coming weeks!