Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) today announced that Sophia Taylor and Abigail Creech, students at Rancho Campana High School in Camarillo, have won the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for California’s 26th Congressional District. Taylor and Creech developed Connect Me, an app designed to help people who are experiencing domestic violence, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and other difficult situations by connecting them with talk and text hotlines, community resources, and reminders to improve their physical and mental health.

“I want to congratulate Sophia and Abigail for their excellent work developing this new app,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “These young women have shown us the positive impact that can come from creative thinking, hard work, and technological know-how. I also want to commend all of the students who participated in the Congressional App Challenge this year. Science and technology fields are the industries of the future. These students’ submissions demonstrate how innovative the young people of Ventura County are and the many ways in which technology can help better our community.”

The Congressional App Challenge is a competition organized by Members of Congress across the country for K-12 students to create their own software applications and gain experience with computer coding. Submissions from students across Ventura County were judged by a panel of experts, including Dr. Ramon Flores, President of the Ventura County Office of Education; Mike Pettit, Chief Information Officer for Ventura County; Philip Hampton, Interim Director of Education Partnerships at California State University Channel Islands; Irene Yang, an app developer and computer science student at California State University Channel Islands; and biomedical engineer Shannon Gillespie McComb.

“I had so much fun participating in this competition,” said Taylor. “I had the opportunity to use my computer science and coding skills and develop an app to help people. I was so thrilled when I heard that the app had won.”

“Rancho Campana High School is extremely proud of Abigail Creech and Sophia Taylor for winning the Congressional App Challenge for their app, ConnectMe,” said Karen Kikuchi, a computer science teacher at Rancho Campana High School in Camarillo. “Abigail and Sophia are students in my Programming I class, and I challenged the entire class to enter the competition. It was amazing to witness the students’ ideas, creativity, innovation, collaboration, and teamwork – these were natural products of the Congressional App Challenge. This wasn’t just another assignment to them. Students took ownership of their app on its purpose and how it interacted with the user. I am grateful to the competition as it made my curriculum relevant to my students.”

“All submissions demonstrated creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication,” said Dr. Flores. “The most rewarding aspect of the Congressional App Challenge was seeing the students apply their coding skills to solve problems relevant to their school environments. Regardless of the outcome, the real winners are the students who would benefit by using these apps.”

As the winning submission, Taylor and Creech’s app will be featured in the U.S. Capitol Building and on the website of the U.S. House of Representatives. The students will also receive $250 in Amazon Web Services credits to support their next technology project.

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