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Q&A with Jasper Zhu, Congressional App Challenge winner and sophomore

Jasper Zhu, Congressional App Challenge winner and sophomore

How were you introduced to the Congressional App Challenge?

I had heard about it from other friends who were also into programming, but the big thing was that it was a really good way to boost your college app.

How did you discover your passion for coding and computers? 

It was in seventh grade, I took a coding course and I was just thinking that it was an easy class to just chill in, but I ended up finding out that it was actually pretty fun.

What were some obstacles you came across during the challenge?

One of them was when you refreshed the page, it would reset everything on the website, so we had to find a way to keep all the information in some kind of storage and then put it back onto the website.

How has winning this challenge impacted your passion for coding? 

I honestly don’t think it changed that much. I just wanted to see if I could do it and if I was good enough to do it. I think it was more of the idea that contributed to my winning, because, in my opinion, the app wasn’t super complicated. It wasn’t like AI or whatever; it was just a simple idea that was useful.

What was your inspiration for creating your app?

The idea came from my partner, Jackie (Wei), who was a family friend in California. He came up with the idea and he wanted a partner to help him to create it, so he contacted me and then we got to work on it.  

Sophomore Jasper Zhu does research on his computer. Zhu said, “(I learned how to code when I) was in seventh grade, I took a coding course and I was just thinking that it was an easy class to just chill in, but I ended up finding out that it was actually pretty fun.” (Saahas Kandru)

What was your main channel of support? 

I would say just my parents and also Jackie.

How do you feel about your success and achievement in the Congressional App Challenge? 

I’m really happy about it, but I also do hope that because it did get on the news that it doesn’t change my life to where I’m too much in the spotlight.

What would you say to someone who wants to start coding or participate in the Congressional App Challenge? 

You should start with some sort of free course, but the biggest mistake is that you don’t want to keep doing tutorials. There’s something called “tutorial hell,” where you keep on doing tutorials trying to learn stuff but you end up not actually learning anything because you don’t do it yourself, so you want to do your own projects to help you get better.

The winning app “I Pooped There” can be viewed on YouTube here

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