Apollo student wins third place in app contest

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Apollo High School senior Ben O’Bryan works on his ”Sign Away” app in the Engineering Academy room at the school on Tuesday. O’Bryan won third place with his creation in the Congressional App Challenge.

Apollo High School senior Ben O'Bryan won third place in the 2nd District Congressional App Challenge hosted by Congressman Brett Guthrie for an app that would assist coaches during play.

O'Bryan's app is called Sign Away. The 18-year-old said he developed the application after his teacher Jonathan Leohr presented him with the task of figuring out a better, cheaper and more time-efficient method for the baseball, softball and football coaches to communicate play numbers from the sidelines. Currently, coaches call out a three-digit number, and players look at their wrists where the play numbers are listed.

"Basically on the first day of school my teacher came up to me and asked me if I wanted to do a project," O'Bryan said. "Someone told him about it, and he was inspired to tell me. It was initially just for our baseball and football team to use."

O'Bryan said he enjoys programming and plans to pursue a degree in computer science when he graduates in May. He was first introduced to programming his sophomore year while attending Owensboro Catholic High School. Once he learned of the programming and coding options available at Apollo, he transferred to the school and has been pursuing the classes since.

"That's how I learned programming. That's when I realized I wanted to do computer science," O'Bryan said.

He has been accepted to the University of Alabama-Huntsville and said he will likely study computer science there.

According to Leorh, he was contacted by Guthrie's field representative who had recently learned about Apollo's four-year coding pathway. He said in most congressional districts, less than 10 projects were submitted, but Guthrie's 2nd District had 41 submissions.

When Leohr considered which of his students would be interested in the app contest, be immediately thought of O'Bryan.

"I pitched an idea to him and an app to create and the purpose for creating it," he said. "Not only would this be a great competition to be a part of, but the app itself would help our school. He jumped on the idea with full force and began planning his design, doing research and writing code."

In a press release, Guthrie congratulated students who participated, specifically the students at Barren County High School who won first place overall with their app ThriveAB that aids in postpartum depression.

He said he was thrilled to host this challenge "to help students develop and show off their STEM skills."

"We have some extremely talented students in our district, and I was impressed with all 41 submissions we received," he said.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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