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The Developer Deficit and TechXploration’s Youth Appathon Solution #TechXAnacostia

Techxploration Appathon 2012

Due to the stagnant number of developers in the United States, many companies turn to outsourcing to solve their software challenges. To no avail, lack of technical educational infrastructure and harsh entry level courses in college also worsen our nation’s developer shortage. However, as a nation, we can (and should) focus on our current challenges and prepare alternatives to help foster the education of developers – like TechXploration’s 2-day Youth Appathon for high school students.

Earlier this July, 28 high school students formed 6 teams and presented at TechXploration’s Youth Appathon Demo Day. Thanks to the organization and support from DiversiTech (@IamDtech), Cause-Driven (@CauseDriven), ARCH Development (@archdevelopment), Lumen8 (@lumen8anacostia), 100 Black Men, Kwasi Frye @kwasifrye (Lead Instructor) and Faye Sheppard (Business Development Instructor) of Clearly Innovative, and Lenovo, several of the teams even had working prototypes at Demo Day. One young first-time developer I spoke with mentioned how he spent over 12 hours developing the prototype for the presentation. Talk about devotion!

The Appathon was very similar to a hackathon. Day 1 connected high school students with volunteer tech innovators and entrepreneurs to explore mobile app concepts, understand concept development, and familiarize students with development tools such as Appcelerator. Day 2 found student teams working collaboratively with their volunteer tech mentors on app development and presentations for the demo at Honfleur Gallery.

The teams were:

The Chillz
Mentor: Amen Ra
App concept: Personal Tour Guide (PTG) – personal tours with the addition of directions via GPS (including information on public transportation) and restaurant/food recommendations. During the Q&A, there was also a recommendation to possibly make this app more culturally rich and niche.

Positive Source
Mentor: Kareem Grant
App concept: QuadraQuiz – a set of randomly generated education questions to help people learn facts; created for those seeking to gain at least a high school knowledge level. This concept was drawn from the large number of high school dropouts in the country.

Management & Company
Mentors: Anthony Braddy & Wesley Linzy
App concept: Anger Management – a mobile game about the accidental jailbreak of an innocently accused man named Tony trying to solve the mystery of why he become the scapegoat of a crime. The game revolves around making good or bad choices and the consequences of those choices. This concept is designed to be fun, educational, and ethically informational to hopefully decrease crime around the country and in high-crime neighborhoods.

The Music Ninja Unicorn Coalition
Mentor: Marcus Finley
App concept: Song Wars – a music battling system in which players vote upon the popularity of songs in a 1-to-1 style while earning digital goods such as badges. Battle upgrades and additional badges would require the purchase of digital goods.

The A Team
Mentors: Freddy Montano & Anita Hall
App concept: Big Biz – a content management system for businesses that groups all of your contacts and business-related tasks in one easy-to-use app.

Collage Company
Mentor: Sam Schechter
App concept: Collage – a visual platform that showcases art from around the world. During the Q&A, there was also a recommendation to possibly target art galleries (many of whom are looking for increased exposure and visitors).

The panel of judges included McKeever (Mac) Conwell @MacConwell of No Bad Gift, Navroop Mitter @NavroopMitter of GryphnCo, Aaron Saunders @aaronksaunders of Clearly Innovative, and one other judge, me @gundamwing4132 of Tech Cocktail.

The winners of selected categories were:

  • Best App – Song Wars
  • Best Pitch – Personal Tour Guide
  • Best Design – Personal Tour Guide
  • Best Business Model – Song Wars
  • Community Impact Award – Anger Management
  • Most Interactive – QuadraQuiz

While this was only a 2-day event, it made a lasting impact on the participating students and all of those involved from the community. Events like TechXploration help foster a stronger developer community and deserve to be highlighted for their extraordinary devotion to solving one of our nation’s growing challenges. Thank you TechXploration!

Additionally, similar programs for up and coming developers include:

Is the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, DC an unknown hub of #dctech? Maybe so!

TechXploration Youth Appathon #TechXAnacostia

Getting ready for TechXploration’s Youth Appathon Demo Day #TechXAnacostia

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About the Author

Jeff Tong is a social media strategist in Washington DC and has been a long-time volunteer at Tech Cocktail. He is also a photographer and musician. Follow Jeff online at @gundamwing4132.

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