Alexander Warren ’18 Wins the Congressional App Challenge


Vivian Ma

Alexander Warren ’18, the Bronx Science winner of the Congressional App Challenge.

Bronx Science proudly announced the winner of 2017’s Congressional App Challenge on their website during the month of April 2018, congratulating Alexander Warren ’18 on his achievement. The annual Congressional App Challenge began in 2013 as a way to incentivize teenagers to learn how to code and get their foot into the STEM world. Members of Congress choose a winner from their district and the winning students display their apps in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Warren had sent his application demo to the challenge with low expectations after his disappointment with not being chosen in the 2016 Challenge. “My A.P. Computer Science teacher last year and Game Programming teacher this year, Ms. Qiu, encouraged me to enter the challenge,” Warren said. Without her support, Warren said that he might not have even applied for the challenge again this year.

The app that he designed is a directory for high schools, designed for middle schoolers who are looking into their future. It features a search option where you can look up specific schools and discover information about it, such as extracurriculars, sports teams, courses, and statistics. Utilizing this information, middle school students can begin looking at high schools at a younger age and find out more information before deciding to apply.

Warren started to work on the app on August 27th, 2017, and fully completed it on October 24th, 2017, after consulting with Ms. Qiu. After persevering through two months to perfect his product, he finally submitted it. “I’m extremely proud of the app that I created because of the sheer amount of work that I put into making it to the best of my ability,” Warren said.

“The challenge motivated me to continue to pursue computer science in the future, and inspires me to work harder in order to achieve more,” said Alexander Warren ’18.

When he finally received a response from Congress, Warren recalls being overjoyed and relieved because of how long it took for the results to go through. He happily accepted his offer to go to Washington D.C. on April 12th, 2018, to demo his app in front of various politicians and figures in STEM.

Inside the Capitol Building, Warren was given a smaller room in the expo to showcase his app alongside his peers from other districts and areas, some of whom did not win. “I felt bad because I saw that other people had also worked extremely hard on their app and didn’t win,” Warren recalls.

However, despite his sentiment, he found his experience there extremely rewarding and was able to connect with the other students. He was most excited demoing his app to Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, who fought for net neutrality.

Warren believes that what made his app stand out from the others was how heavily he focused on the importance of convenience and easy access. “I mostly got positive feedback when demoing my app, because the people to whom I showed it liked the fact that all the information was easy to search for and read.”

His time researching high schools with his parents when he was still in middle school was his main source of inspiration for the app. While colleges had so many directories to look at, there were not many for high schools, and Warren wanted to make the process for middle schoolers easier.

Despite his previous setbacks, Warren continues to work on perfecting his computer science skills and knowledge, hoping that he will further improve his products in the future. “The challenge motivated me to continue to pursue computer science in the future, and inspires me to work harder in order to achieve more.”