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Back-to-Back Champion: Womack Honors Winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge

8th grader from Bentonville wins the 2021 Congressional App Challenge after clinching the title in 2020 as well

Pictured: Rep. Womack (right) with Congressional App Challenge Winner – Veera Unnam (left

Bentonville, AR—January 14, 2022….Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) today honored Veera Sai Joshik Unnam, an 8th grader at Haas Hall Academy in Bentonville, for winning the 2021 Congressional App Challenge. The annual and nationwide coding competition for middle school and high school students aims to encourage our nation’s youth to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and computer science careers.  

Congressman Womack said, “Congratulations to Veera on successfully defending his title. Applying innovation and determination, he focused his coding skills on a new endeavor. His latest app equips teachers and schools with a novel tool for automated classroom attendance using state-of-the-art facial recognition. I’m constantly impressed by the enthusiasm for STEM exhibited by Third District entrants. The promise exhibited by our next generation shows the future is bright.”

Dr. Rod Wittenberg, Headmaster at Haas Hall Bentonville, said, “Not only has Veera made history by becoming the first back-to-back winner of this award, he has ensured that a junior high scholar from Haas Hall Academy Bentonville will have won this award in three out of the last four years. Veera embodies the passion for learning that is a hallmark of Haas Hall Academy scholars. I could not be more proud of him!”

Jeff Amerine, Founder and Managing Director of Startup Junkie, said, “Again this year the students that competed in the Congressional App Challenge from the 3rd Congressional District exceeded expectations.  The process of picking the winner was exceptionally difficult due to the fantastic mobile applications the students developed and the excellent job they did in presenting their work.  This program makes me very optimistic about the future our young innovators will create.”

Veera’s winning app, AttendGo, is a smart, automated attendance recording app that uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to capture attendance while students enter the classroom. The technology detects and compares faces against student images stored in its database. It also provides comprehensive attendance reports. AttendGo supports a variety of platforms, including Android phones and tablets, as well as iOS phones and tablets. You can watch a tutorial of the winning app here.

Womack honored Veera—who is now the reigning champion after previously winning the 2020 challenge—with a certificate and congressional medallion at a ceremony at Haas Hall Academy. Entries were reviewed by a panel of local technology experts and judged on the originality, creativity, and quality of the app design. The judges included Jeff Amerine and Phyl Amerine of Startup Junkie. AttendGo will be featured on a digital display in the U.S. Capitol and on the Congressional App Challenge website. 

Additional honorees include:

This is the seventh year that Womack has hosted the Congressional App Challenge in Arkansas’s Third Congressional District. The Natural State has consistently had every congressional district partake in the competition, making Arkansas one of the top Congressional App Challenge participants per capita from across the United States. The 2022 edition of the competition will open up later this year.

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.



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