Gupta, and other winners from around the country, will showcase their apps to Congress in April.
Sarthak Gupta is the winner of Florida’s Fifteenth District’s annual Congressional App Challenge, announced last week by Representative Laurel Lee. This yearly competition, started in 2015, was created to promote and highlight Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and to encourage middle and high school students to learn coding and computer science skills.
The nationwide competition is designed to have students compete against their peers to create an application or “app” for mobile, tablet or computer devices.
Gupta, a senior in Strawberry Crest High School’s International-Baccalaureate (IB) Program, created Signify, an app that uses image processing to convert sign language into English text, which is then spoken aloud by a text-to-speech synthesizer.
Gupta decided to participate in the contest after Varun Patel, another student at Strawberry Crest, won the challenge in 2020 and 2021.
“I’ve been interested in computer science since I took a STEM elective in middle school,” said Gupta.
His inspiration for the app came while volunteering at Feeding America Tampa Bay. “I was volunteering one morning and someone came in who used sign language to communicate,” he said. “None of the staff knew sign language and I thought there needed to be a solution for this. These people are an important part of our society and it’s really important to include them as well.”
It took Gupta just less than five months to create the app, working mostly on weekends. He used the programming language Python, which he learned in ninth grade at Florida Virtual School and through online tutorials.
Right now, Signify can be used on a laptop but his goal is to make it available in the app store so people can use it real time. “I also want to improve the user interface to make it more user friendly and make it available in multiple languages in addition to English,” he said.
He’s also hopes to share the app with the organization that inspired the design, Feeding America Tampa Bay.
Swara Patel, enrolled in Carrollwood Day School, earned second place for the app SeaSafe, which helps determine if products are safe or unsafe for ocean reefs. Vishal Naveen, enrolled at Middleton High School, earned third place for the app H.I.M. (Hurricane Inventory Management), that facilitates the organization and coordination of food drives during hurricane emergencies.
Congresswoman Laurel Lee was impressed by the talent students across the community displayed in this year’s competition. “It is important for Congress to continue to champion and inspire students to explore STEM, coding, and computer science to support the next generation of leaders in this field,” she said.
The winner from each district is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during its annual HouseOfCode festival in April.