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December 16, 2021

(PITTSBURGH, PA) – Today, Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) announced that Shreya Rathi and Sejal Verma, both Juniors at South Fayette High School, are the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge for Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District for developing the "Fighting Hate Crimes" app.

"The app that these high school students created is a powerful tool that can have an impact here in our community and across the country," said Lamb. "Congratulations to Rathi and Verma for their hard work. Thanks to all of the students – and the teachers and family members who supported them – who participated in this year's contest."

The "Fighting Hate Crimes" app was created using Java and runs on the mobile Android system. The app was designed for users who are susceptible to hate crimes, providing users with the capability to defend and protect themselves against attackers, as well as spread awareness of hate crimes. The "Fighting Hate Crimes" app features the following four main components:

  • Map Feature: Adds a pin to the map page of the location of a reported incident to warn users of areas where a hate crime has taken place;
  • 911 Emergency Feature: Calls the police when pressed in an emergency situation and sends an automated voice message requesting help, providing the location. This feature also allows the user to send a pre-written message and location details to three personal contacts;
  • Report Feature: Allows a user to report details to the police about a hate crime in a non-emergency situation; and
  • Defense Strategies Feature: Provides a detailed list of different strategies users can use to defend themselves in an unfavorable situation.

The Congressional App Challenge is an annual nationwide competition sponsored by the Internet Education Foundation to inspire students to explore STEM, coding and computer science through hands-on practice.

Lamb hosted the Congressional App Challenge to provide middle and high school students in PA-17 an opportunity to practice coding and computer science skills. A panel of independent judges from the Pittsburgh region chose the winning app which will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for the next year.