Students at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) are constantly being challenged to look critically at society’s problems and develop technological solutions for them. The college is now challenging high school students to think like an IST student by developing an app solution to a pressing issue.
“The Propose an App Challenge is an opportunity for high school students to get creative and explore technology-based solutions,” said Deyo Olorunnisola, director of recruiting for the College of IST. “This is what employers are increasingly challenging their employees to do and it is the central focus of the College of IST.”
All high school students are eligible to form a team and compete in the Propose an App Challenge. Teams must consist of three to five students, plus an adviser from their high school. The best teams will consist of a diverse group of students who will bring unique perspectives. Ideally, the groups will include creative thinkers and math whizzes, along with students who enjoy using technology. Teams must choose a problem that exists in the world, preferably one that is relatable to many people or helps a group of people in great need. The teams will design an app that addresses the problem.
“The College of IST encourages and supports its students through the process of developing their big ideas for new technologies, and we want to extend that support and encouragement to high school students this year,” said Tricia Falco, enrollment services specialist for undergraduate recruiting at the College of IST.
Teams that make it past the first round of judging will work with student mentors from the College of IST to further develop their app ideas. Those 20 teams will travel to Penn State's University Park campus in April, where their posters will be reviewed during IST Startup Week as part of the second round of judging. The top three teams will be chosen to present their idea to the judges and an audience to determine who will win the top prize of $5,000. Second- and third-place teams will be awarded tech prizes.
Beyond the prizes, Falco said, finalists also will have the opportunity to make connections with “innovative alumni and pioneers who are achieving success through startup initiatives of their own or with new ventures in already established organizations.”
“Overall, we are excited to see what these students can dream up, and we hope these students will continue to work on these ideas long after the competition has ended,” she said.
Teams must register by Friday, Dec. 11, and the top 20 teams must be able to attend the final competition in person at Penn State's University Park Campus on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. (Teams will be each be given up to $500 in travel reimbursement for the finals.) To learn more about the challenge, visit http://ist.psu.edu/itech-challenge.