Bay Ridge

STEM contest challenges students to create apps

December 29, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John Abi-Habib, owner of MSI Net, Inc., is one of the contest judges. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Hey students, here’s a competition that is sure to test your app-titude. U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan is inviting students from his congressional district to use their creative skills to come up with original apps for a contest aimed at promoting education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) said the app challenge, part of an effort by the House of Representatives to advance STEM education, is open to students in the 11th Congressional District.

The deadline for entering the contest is Jan. 15.

A panel of three local judges — John Abi-Habib, Frank Floridia and Anthony Rapacciuolo — will announce winners on Feb. 22.

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Abi-Habib, founder of MSI Net, Inc. and mCloudServ LLC, works to improve technology in the classroom to empower students. “I’m excited to review the students’ work. This generation grew up surrounded by digital technology, and the next major tech breakthrough could come from a teenager tinkering in the garage,” he said.

The winners could potentially become famous nationwide. The winning apps will be exhibited on a digital display in the U.S. Capitol for a year following the competition.

“To compete in a 21stcentury global economy, our students must enter the workforce with unprecedented technological savvy,” Donovan said. “Today’s entrepreneurs can build successful companies with just a desk, a computer and an idea. I’m excited to see what our students develop — with the right skill-set, there are no limits to what they can achieve.”

Floridia, founder of Electoral Media, a company that specializes in web development and digital strategy, said he is looking forward to seeing what the students have to offer. “Thanks to growing up in a digital environment, young people not only represent the segment of the population who are fastest to adopt new technology, they are the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs who will change the world with their own ideas and applications,” he said.

Rapacciuolo, owner of PRcision LLC, a public relations and marketing firm, said Donovan deserves credit for sponsoring the app challenge. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the students create. Hats off to our congressman for recognizing the importance of digital technology and giving these students an opportunity to showcase their creativity and talent,” he said.

Donovan’s office has reached out to schools in the district to encourage students to participate.

Here are the contest rules:

Each entrant must submit a short video showcasing the created app.

Judges will choose winners based on:

1. Quality of the idea: How creative is the app? How original is it? Does the app address a problem? If so, how creative is the solution?

2. Implementation of the idea: Did the student consider the user experience? Did the student give a lot of thought to the app design?

3. Demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills: Did the student display understanding of the tools the student used? Did the student demonstrate an understanding of how to code?

Here’s how to enter:

Step 1: Check eligibility on

Step 2: Register on

Step 3: Make sure you’re on Rep. Donovan’s Challenge page.

Step 4: Submit contact information.

Step 5: Create the app.

Step 6: Submit app and demonstration video.

Step 7: Fill out the exit questionnaire.

After the app is submitted, students will receive a final questionnaire via email. The student must fill out the questionnaire for the app to be evaluated. It’s the final step required for the submission to be complete. 

For more information, visit or contact Joseph Kalmin in Donovan’s office at 202-225-3371.

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