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Student programmers compete in local app challenge

Published March 4, 2014

Students of Palo Alto High School are awaiting results of an app building contest to be announced next week.

To commemorate the 2nd National Day of Civic Hacking, the City of Palo Alto is organizing the Palo Alto Apps Challenge to encourage programmers over the age of 14 to develop innovative apps that contribute to the local community, according to the contest website.

Members of the Paly Android Development Club entered in the contest, submitting a number of ideas as a club.

“We heard about the opportunity from a friend and thought it would be a good chance to design and create apps that would be useful,” club member and junior Ryan Huang said.

The club members show excitement in contributing to the Palo Alto community through app development and have come up with innovative ways to help.

“[An] idea we had was an application that lets you register and keep track of your bike,” junior club member Charlie Mihran said. “Biking is quite popular in Palo Alto, and inevitably there are bike thefts. This app would allow you to register your bike, and in the event of it being stolen, the police could verify that you registered your bike and help you track it down. This app also could include a map with good biking routes or something along those lines.”

The Android Development Club has some competition within the Paly community as individual teams also joined in on the competition. Sophomores Ophir Sneh and Matthew Seligson have submitted their own original idea.

“We are making the City of Palo Alto’s availability data of recreational facilities, particularly the fields, easily accessible to the public through a user-friendly iPhone app,” Seligson said.

The sophomore team members say they are interested in the $3,500 prize for first place, but their focus is also to contribute to the community.

“I just want to do more advanced computer science work, and stuff that can actually benefit the community,” Sneh said. “ I think it’s a really good experience for me. And I also would like to make some money in the process.”

Although entrants have already submitted their ideas, each app still possesses great potential as they are only rough ideas of the app in its prime phase. 10 finalists out of the 74 submissions will be chosen and announced on March 13 during a press conference at the Palo Alto City Hall.

“Our goal is to be the best,” Huang said. “There is a good chance that we will be finalists as we believe we have solid ideas.”

The chosen finalists will be presenting their creation at the Apps Showcase Event on April 27 at the Palo Alto Art Center. Afterwards, the televised finale will follow on May 31 at the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, where the winners will be announced after the vote from the audience.

For more information, visit the Palo Alto Apps Challenge website.


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