LAKELAND, FL—At a recognition ceremony held during “Computer Science Recognition Week,” Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-18) announced the winners of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge. The winners include: Cameron Johnson, Valerie Pompee and Joshua Brandt of McKeel Academy of Technology in Lakeland, Florida.

“At a time when cyberthreats from foreign adversaries like China continue to escalate, we must strengthen our workforce of cybersecurity professionals,” said Rep. Franklin. “Events like this challenge and inspire the next generation to develop the skills necessary to meet our high-tech security needs. I congratulate McKeel Academy of Technology and these talented students for their innovative app and trust they will make meaningful contributions to our state and future cybersecurity.”
“We are so proud of our students for using their time and talents to create a valuable resource that can benefit anyone who’s in the difficult position of looking for the right college,” remarked Mrs. Rebecca Stacey, Technology Educator, McKeel Academy of Technology. “Not only did they accomplish their goal in a technical sense, but they truly worked as a team to make it happen.”

Inspired by a personal need, the team’s innovative app, UniGuide, simplifies the college decision process by ranking Florida's State University System 12 institutions across six key areas. Franklin’s office celebrated these exceptional students during a special event in honor of Computer Science Education Week.

The Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide competition where high school students compete against peers in each congressional district to create a winning software application or app on a platform of their choice.  The competition runs through the summer and concludes in November.

The panel of judges included David Robinson, Managing Partner, Thrive Networks; Dr. Candi Ring, Educational Pathways Specialist, Cyber Florida; Dr. Christian A Roberson, Computer Sciences Professor, Florida Southern College; Shandi Perkins, CEO, Cadence Coalition; Daniel Holland, CEO, Arete Solutions.

Winners are invited to a reception in Washington, DC. Their app is displayed in the U.S. Capitol building and posted online for one year. Notably, winners also receive an ARTS Act Copyright Waiver, which waives their registration fees if they choose to copyright their creation.