Prospect High School senior heads to D.C. after winning 2018 Congressional App Challenge

© Photo provided by Muhammet Balsoy.

Muhammet Balsoy was 11 when his father first introduced him to computer programming.

Soon after, Muhammet began learning different coding languages and writing simple programs. He enrolled in online courses to build his skills and took classes in Prospect High School’s IT pathway, where he worked alongside his peers to build iOS apps that help others.

Today, the 18-year-old is the 2018 Congressional App Challenge winner for Illinois' 8th Congressional District. Elk Grove High School students and siblings Rachel and Roderick Sacdalan took second in the contest.

Muhammet, a senior, will meet with members of Congress and national tech leaders next spring in Washington D.C., and introduce the winning app he has created.

“It’s incredible,” says Muhammet of his journey in computer science. “I never thought it would come to this point.”

As part of a computer science class at Prospect, Muhammet this year designed an app to help students digitally keep track of the school’s schedule changes, including early dismissals, special assemblies and finals.

A schedule app currently exists on student’s iPads but Muhammet recognized the need to improve it. He used his skills and background in graphic design to make the new app more interactive and automatic. His app, which uses the programming language Swift with XCode, automatically pulls the school’s schedule so students can easily check for changes.

Muhammet went one step further and incorporated District 214’s Career Pathways program in the app. In his app, students can learn about new and existing classes offered in District 214, read course descriptions and better understand course sequences in each career pathway.

The app is in its last stages of beta testing and Muhammet hopes it will soon be installed on every Prospect student’s iPad and later on all District 214 students’ iPads. He even designed a widget allowing the app to show on the iPad’s lock screen.

Muhammet credits his father, who has a master’s degree in computer science, for helping him to discover his passion and his teachers at Prospect for encouraging him. He also says he believes technology can make a positive impact.

“My life would not be the same if I did not believe so strongly in this idea,” he says. “My inventive and creative traits would not have developed like they are today if I didn’t believe that technology could drastically improve lives.”

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