Seniors win in NYC summer tech program

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TOWNSEND HARRIS High School is well-known for students who excel in academic pursuits within its walls, but excelling outside of school has its own special novelty. From internships to summer learning programs, Harrisites shine bright in their pursuit of knowledge. Seniors Maria Silaban and Max Prohorov won a $5000 prize alongside a team of fellow high schoolers after the rigorous NY Metro Startup Summer Tech Program for their app, YuMu. The members of their team were Brian Lu, Aminata Dieng, and Plai Ravangpal, from Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Hunter College High Schools, respectively.

Concerning the purpose of the program, senior Maria Silaban stated, “Summer Startup Tech serves as an opportunity to provide NYC youth with the skills necessary to succeed in the business world and the competition aspect attempts to simulate what being a real life entrepreneur may entail.”

Through hands-on experiences and mentorship, teams of high school students throughout New York City were given the opportunity to develop the bare bones for an application and market their idea. During this ten week program, the students were given two weeks to immerse themselves in coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and form teams to develop a mobile app and business plan aimed at improving education or the quality of city life for NYC students. Later, they worked in a more cl as s room-like setting in various company offices alongside skilled mentors. The mentors included representat ives from companies such as AppNexus, JP Morgan, and Google. The Demo-Night, during which the apps and plans were brought before a panel of judges, was held on September 7.

Senior Brian Lu of Stuyvesant High School explained, “We got to our final product by listing a bunch of features our app should have. As time went on, we made some of these ‘visions’ and prioritized ones that would be more important. Once again, our mentors were a huge help. They knew what was realistic, but also knew what people liked in an app. From making our app as inclusive as possible, to what people would actually care about when choosing a place to hang out, they were always there to guide us.”

After eight weeks of development, Max described, “YuMu, a mobile application that consolidates the preferences of teens and young adults who are planning a group outing and produces suggestions that will satisfy each person. By finding a solution that everyone can get behind, YuMu secures more time for friends to come together and make lasting memories.”

Senior Maria Silaban furthered this by saying, “You can poll and come to agree on the perfect place. The greatest thing about the app is that you don’t even need the app to poll. If one of your friends has it, they can send you the suggested list so that you can take part in the polling.”

Each member of this successful team had a specific role that contributed to their success. Positions on the team included analysts, developers, and CEO, and operations officer. With these roles, the tasks were divided evenly amongst the group to ensure that both the business and the technical sides were handled properly. Thanks to their teamwork, each of these high schoolers left with a large cash prize and valuable knowledge.

Senior Aminata Dieng of Brooklyn Tech stated, “The largest effect the program’s had on me is showing me that being an entrepreneur is now so much easier than I thought it would be, but also so much more difficult. Anyone can start a company as long as there’s a vision, but not everyone can keep that vision smart and innovative. I do think, though, that anyone can learn.”