U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) has announced Gulliver Prep's Gaetan Almela '19 and Kristian Zedan '19 as winners of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for her Congressional district. This marks the second-straight year Gulliver has won its district's Challenge, as Vicki Rios '17 took first place in 2016 with her Simple Sign app.
The Congressional App Challenge promotes education in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field. This year marks the third official Challenge, as 190 Congressional districts across 42 states hosted app challenges for their student constituents. Over 4,100 students participated, yielding 1,270 original student-created apps.
Gaetan and Kristian's winning app, ChromaTilt, was designed to help people with color blindness to better distinguish colors in real life.
"The app uses a phone's camera app," Gaetan sad. "The user can tap on the screen or change the settings so that the screen will automatically adjust the colors in a way that will help them see better through their screen than in real life."
Under the direction of Prep computer science faculty member Dean Morell, it took the duo about three weeks to research and design the app from scratch.
"We take the hues of light that they can't see, and shift them a certain degree away from that," said Kristian, whose brother Billy Zedan '12 is a Gulliver alum. "The closer it is to being able to be seen, the farther it will be from the edge."
Similar technology has been used in video games and is also used in some color blind products on the market such as EnChroma lenses.
"The glasses that are sold are super expensive so we wanted to help people that can't afford them, "said Kristian, who was born with colorblindness. "You don't just not see colors; they also melt together and so we can't tell the difference."
The ChromaTilt app is free and not only does it replicate what the glasses do, it is completely adjustable for as many user profiles and settings as needed.
The Congressional App Challenge will invite winners from across the country to showcase their apps to the Members of Congress and members of the tech community at #HouseOfCode, a reception on Capitol Hill to be held in April 2018. Their work is eligible to be featured for one year on the permanent display in the U.S. Capitol Building and on the House.gov website. Each winning student will also be awarded $250 in Amazon Web Service credits, generously donated by Amazon Web Services.
Gaetan and Kristian will also have an opportunity to participate in workshops and network with STEM advocates who oversee mentor programs with companies such as Apple, Google, Verizon, Amazon Web Services, Capital One and PayPal.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," Gaetan said. "Had it not been for the App Challenge and for Mr. Morell and the other teachers pushing and supporting us, we would not be where we are right now."
In addition to this year's winning app, Gulliver received an unprecedented number of additional honors for the 2017 Challenge including:
Second place -- Matthew Garcia '20, Ryan Costa '20 and Daniel Fleites-Cruz '20 for their app, Emergency Disaster Guide
Honorable Mention -- David Krajewski '21, Lilly Enekes '21 and Jacob Kantor '21 for their app, Allergy Ally
Honorable Mention -- Karen Liberman '20 for her app, Secure Me
A list of all 2017 Congressional App Challenge winners can be found at CongressionalAppChallenge.us.