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Press Release  
Release Date: Friday, May 30, 2014 4:31 PM
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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By Jordan Shanks
Howard University News Room
     
     
Student Coders Challenged in Mobile App Design Contest
 

Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science Miles Peterson and Busayo Bird-Maqubela present mobile app designs at the Clearly Mobile Innovative Challenge on June 3.

WASHINGTON (June 05, 2014) – "Yes, we’re coding!" were the words of Miles Peterson, a student mobile software coder at the Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science. Peterson was one of 13 students who showcased mobile app designs and prototypes as part of the Clearly Mobile Innovative Challenge (CMIC) on June 3.

Students at the school have been creating mobile apps, which range from fitness apps to online magazines, for the past year in their computer science course. The unique course was developed in partnership with Clearly Innovative, Inc., a mobile solutions company based in Washington, DC. The course is in its second year at the school

“Howard University Middle School gave us an amazing opportunity to come and pilot this program,” said Marcus Finley, a senior mobile solutions provider at Clearly Innovative. “It has given us the opportunity to teach mobile technology to a vital age group.”

The CMIC is the culmination of the year-long Startup Middle School Program that was supported by the school’s relationships with Comcast and Clearly Innovative. The initiative grew from the collective efforts of a group of entrepreneurs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals who wanted to create a project that could expose students of color to opportunities in tech entrepreneurship.

The key technology partner for the program is Clearly Innovative, which provides cross-platform mobile solutions, leveraging a combination of the Appcelerator Framework, Objective-C and Java.

Startup Middle School harnesses, develops and promotes the talent that already exists within American middle school classrooms to create a new generation of innovative global technology leaders. At (MS)2, the program entails the development of a custom mobile technology curriculum and competition to engage and motivate 40 middle school students from economically-challenged backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM. On June 3, students presented their ideas to a live audience and panel of judges for the chance to win a special trip, and potentially, investors for their projects.

During the ceremony, Peterson presented his mobile app, which was focused on fitness. “The idea came from the fact that obesity is a big health problem in America,” he said. “There’s no app on the market that has the features I came up with.”

Busayo Bird-Maqubela, a 12-year-old coder at (MS)2, created an app called The Five Elements (TFE), which consists of five independent platforms, including the TFE clothing shop, TFE magazine and TFE ‘my studio,’ where musicians can connect and collaborate.

He said he plans to use his knowledge of technology for more than mobile apps and technology solutions.

“I think of myself as a coder,” Bird-Maqubela said. “This program has given me recourses and skills. This class creates the next Mark Zuckerberg, the next Steve Jobs. This is the class that makes the Black billionaires that can benefit the community. One of my main missions is to definitely come back and give back to the community.”

Eugenia Charles, a parent of one of the coders who participated, said she saw a need for more programs to bridge the “digital divide” – the idea that socioeconomic and other disparities can constrain opportunities in today’s high-tech world.

“Many of us are way behind when it comes to technology,” Charles said. “Many of our children don’t have access to computers, so the school provides them with their own laptops to take home. I think it’s great that the Howard is making a concerted effort to bring more opportunities for people of color in the tech field.”

For more information, contact Patrick Gusman, managing director, Social Sector Innovations, LLC, 646-835-9956 or via email at startupmiddleschool@gmail.com.


ABOUT HOWARD

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at www.howard.edu.


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