Technology has radically altered how we work and play, with the “borderless lifestyle” enabling us to watch TV, shop or work when and where we want.
Businesses must continuously evolve to meet consumers’ needs. And to succeed, businesses need a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Yet the supply of STEM-skilled workers isn’t keeping up with the demand. Studies show that 80 percent of the fastest-growing careers in our country require STEM skills, but the U.S. is not graduating enough students able to meet this demand. As a result, as many as 3 million STEM jobs have gone unfilled. In addition, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs over the past decade.
To help meet this demand, an innovative competition is underway to stimulate students’ creativity and innovation in these fields. The Verizon Innovative App Challenge gives teams of middle- and high-school students a chance to create, develop and bring to market their own app.
The competition’s challenge is simple: Develop a concept for an app that solves a local school or community issue. This year’s competition will reward eight winning schools with $20,000 grants, as well as tablets for each student team member, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America. These winning teams also will work with professionals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and Verizon to help build their apps and bring them to market on the Google Play store, respectively.
The first App Challenge in 2012-13 saw teams from more than 470 schools submit app concepts from every state and Washington, D.C., with more than 5,000 students engaged in the program.
The 2013-14 Verizon Innovative App Challenge is open for submissions until Dec. 17. For more information or to submit an app concept, visit www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge.
Sandy Arnette is Verizon’s public relations manager for Maryland and Washington, D.C.