Nation’s Largest Autism Research Initiative Calling on Mobile App Developers to Build Apps for Change

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SPARK seeks to develop innovative apps for its research community of 30,000 individuals with autism through a mobile app contest open to students across the country.

SPARK and Pace University are seeking high school and college students to develop Mobile Friendly Websites and Innovative Apps to help individuals with Autism.

“Mobile apps can be built to meet the needs of a variety of communities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, their parents, families, and caretakers,” said Jonathan Hill, dean of the Seidenberg School.

High school and college students in the U.S. have the opportunity to win cash prizes while doing good by creating innovative apps and mobile friendly websites for individuals and families affected by autism through the SPARK Mobile App Contest.

The contest is run through a partnership between Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) and Pace University. With a long-standing history of facilitating the creation of mobile apps to improve lives, Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems will be organizing the technical areas of the contest, including selecting technical judges, managing code review, and serving as technical support for contestants. SPARK is an online research initiative that aims to speed up research and advance the understanding of autism.

“Mobile apps can be built to meet the needs of a variety of communities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, their parents, families, and caretakers,” said Jonathan Hill, dean of the Seidenberg School. “In competitions like the SPARK Mobile App Contest, not only are we building great apps that solve real problems, but these apps are being built by high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who learn skills in mobile app development that will serve them in their careers.”

No experience in mobile app development or websites is necessary to enter. Tech specialists and autism experts will be available to assist throughout the contest. To learn more or to enter, visit contest.SPARKforAutism.org.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on January 26, 2018. Technical judges and autism experts will score projects and video submissions in each of the categories -- design, prototype, and production. Semi-finalists will be announced after the deadline and the SPARK community will then vote for their favorite app. Winners will be announced on April 13 which is during Autism Awareness Month. The contestant with the highest score will receive the SPARK Community Award with a grand prize of $25,000. Other awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.

In the United States, 1 in 68 children are affected by autism (CDC, 2017) and there are more than 3.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder (Autism Society, 2017). Pace University has a long-standing commitment to supporting college students with autism. The Ongoing Academic and Social Instructional Support (OASIS) program at Pace offers one of the most comprehensive college support programs for students with learning differences.

About Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems: Founded in 1983, the Seidenberg School is one of the oldest dedicated institutions of computer science and information systems in the country. The school is named for Ivan G. Seidenberg, its most generous benefactor and former chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, Inc. The Seidenberg School has run the Westchester Smart Mobile App Development Bowl for three years which has drawn close to 1,000 contestants from high schools and colleges. In 2017, the Seidenberg School was, for the third time, recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for its role in cybersecurity education and research by designating it a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through academic year 2022, a distinction held by only two other institutions of higher education in New York State.

About Pace University: A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County enrolling 13,000 students in bachelor, master, and doctoral programs in its College of Health Professions, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. http://www.pace.edu

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Victoria Hochman
Thompson & Bender
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