STEM app winners: Top from left, Sid Chandrasekar, Rhea Shinde, Tristan Stevens and Rachel Oommen; bottom from left, Stephen Yamasaki, Rudy Banerjee and Ayan Gupta. Andy Nystrom, Redmond Reporter

STEM app winners: Top from left, Sid Chandrasekar, Rhea Shinde, Tristan Stevens and Rachel Oommen; bottom from left, Stephen Yamasaki, Rudy Banerjee and Ayan Gupta. Andy Nystrom, Redmond Reporter

Verizon names STEM High app team a Best in Nation winner

A seven-member Tesla STEM High School squad received a surprise on Wednesday morning during a school assembly.

Verizon representative Scott Charlston named the ninth-graders at the school near Redmond a Best in Nation winner in the fifth annual Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge for its “Take Me There” mobile app concept.

The app — which was selected from more than 1,800 submissions nationwide — would provide disabled commuters the ability to locate accessible transportation.

As one of eight winners, the STEM students will receive $20,000 from the Verizon Foundation for their school; tablets for each team member; the opportunity to work with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) App Inventor team to build their concepts into apps available in the Google Play Store; and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference in Orlando, Fla., in June 2017 to present their finished apps.

The team — which includes Ayan Gupta, Rudy Banerjee, Sid Chandrasekar, Stephen Yamasaki, Rachel Oommen, Rhea Shinde and Tristan Stevens — submitted its app to the challenge in November 2016 and also won one of two Best in State awards as well as one of four Best in Region awards for the Pacific region. The STEM team — which received guidance from teacher adviser Melissa Wrenchey — previously won $5,000.

“Words cannot describe how happy I am. At first, it was just an assignment and we wanted to get a good grade, but we never thought it would turn into something big, something national,” said Gupta following the assembly.

Added Shinde: “I’m just really surprised. This is an amazing honor and I’m so glad we did all this.”

The Reporter noted in an earlier story that Shinde learned about those living with disabilities — and things like transportation options to accessibility — as a volunteer at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond.

Stevens said the app gathers data from various sources such as Google, to come up with the best route users can take to get to where they need to be. Shinde added that users can also enter their needs, whether that means they need wheelchair accessibility or are visually impaired and need the app to provide voice instructions.

As they worked to refine the app, Shinde said they talked to another student at STEM who is in a wheelchair to get her opinion and feedback on how they can improve “Take Me There.” The senior — who must rely on her parents to go places, from school to the mall — liked the idea.

“I’m pretty excited we’re actually making this,” said Yamasaki following the assembly.

He added that the journey involved, “a lot of scrapping ideas and making new ones.”

STEM principal Cindy Duenas said that the team has created something that will positively impact the lives of many people in Washington and around the world.

Charlston first spoke about the students and then revealed that the team was a winner.

“You guys are the digital native, you like came out of the womb with a cell phone in your hand,” he said. “So what we ask is that students all across the country dream a little bit. Think of a problem, think of a challenge in Redmond, in Kirkland, in Sammamish where you guys live that might be solved through an app, through an idea for an app.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Verizon names STEM High app team a Best in Nation winner

More in News

Screenshot
King County weather: Dec. 3-5

Here is your King County area weather forecast for Dec. 3-5, 2021.… Continue reading

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

The Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center is located at 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
FEMA to send mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit to Western Washington

The mobile site is set to open Dec. 20 in Federal Way; additional locations to come.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washington health officials discuss response to new COVID variant

Things will be handled with Omicron variant similar to the Delta variant.

Aftermath of crash at intersection of NE Woodinville Duvall Road and West Snoqualmie Valley Road (Screenshot from King County Sheriff's Office Facebook account)
Teen walks away from horrible crash in rural East King County

First responders found the overturned and crushed vehicle abandoned near Duvall.

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn
King County Councilmember Dunn will challenge Rep. Kim Schrier for U.S. Congress seat

The current County Councilmember would be following in his late mother’s footsteps

Redmond Mayor Angela Birney (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon (courtesy of City of Redmond)
Newly renovated Westside Park now open to public

The park includes new amenities such as walking trails, sports courts and a zip line.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

Most Read