Jamaica Students Win Congressional App Contest

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Grace Meng awards Arun Budhoo (left) and Joshua Veersammy.

BY JON CRONIN

Two students from Jamaica’s Thomas Edison High School have been selected by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) as the winners of her congressional app contest.

Jashua Veersammy and Arun Budhoo, who are both 16-year-old juniors at Thomas Edison, will present their app on Capitol Hill in April to members of congress and the tech community at a special #HouseOfCode reception.

The contest was part of a nationwide Congressional App Challenge, during which students competed by creating an app for any computer or mobile device. Each winner will receive $250 in Amazon web credits and a $100 gift card from Southwest Airlines.

Veerasamy and Budhoo’s app, which is known as “VIVID,” aims to get people motivated and feel more confident while exercising. The app will be on display at the U.S. Capitol and on the House of Representatives’ official website at www.house.gov.

“We are deeply honored to have been chosen as the winners of Congresswoman Meng’s competition,” said Veerasammy and Budhoo. “We first entered the contest for fun, and then got serious about creating an app that could make a difference in people’s lives. We brainstormed ideas for many hours, put our creativity to the test, and came-up with an app to help people be fit and healthy. We’re thankful that our hard work paid off and we are grateful to have had the inspiration of our shop teacher Kathleen Kuntz, and others from a competing team at our school. We’re extremely excited to showcase our work on Capitol Hill next month, and we thank Congresswoman Meng for taking part in the Congressional App Challenge.”

Meng said that she was impressed by the two students’ app.

“I am proud to congratulate Jashua and Arun for winning my app challenge,” said Meng. “I am extremely impressed at how these teens used their creativity and scientific minds to create and develop this impressive piece of work. Their efforts illustrate the outstanding tech skills that exist among Queens students and I salute their passion for technology and writing code. I look forward to welcoming them to Washington next month, and I applaud the talents of all the students who entered my competition.”

A total of 15 other students in Meng’s district applied—and their apps focused on games, assisting those with autism and helping women locate shelters. Nationally, more than 4,100 students participated in the contest and more than 1,270 student-created apps were submitted.

The local judges who presided over Meng’s competition were Daniel Leavitt, an adjunct lecturer at Queens College and vice president of e-discovery, engineering, and architecture at Deutsche Bank; Ted Brown, a computer science professor and director of Queens College’s Tech Incubator; and Jukay Hsu, the founder and C.E.O. of Coalition for Queens.

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