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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — CGI, a local technology company, hosted a contest for girls in public schools to develop their own app call “The CGI IT Girl Challenge.”

The challenge started a year ago as an idea pitched to CGI by Nicole Swan, the CGI IT Girl Program Lead. The idea grew then into mentoring young girls in their schools on mobile app development. Mentoring was later moved to remote mentoring when COVID-19 hit the area.

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CGI partnered with teachers to create teams of 2-4 girls. At first, CGI would mentor the girls in their schools, but when COVID-19 hit, the mentoring became virtual. CGI ensured all contestants were given the necessary tools they needed to compete fairly, such as laptops.

The girls then were tasked with creating virtual video pitches for their mobile apps to deliver to various executives in different industries who would judge the apps.

“The 14 girls who completed the challenge, perservered through it all,” said Swan.

The First Place Team was Dear Bee: Brashear News 4 You, an app created by Kiera Robinson and Isabel Mendoza. The prize was a $20,000 scholarship split evenly among them.

“I lost my mind,” said Robinson.

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“My sister and I were jumping up and down,” said Mendoza.

Dear Bee is a mobile news app for their school, complete with a language translator, social media and a photo booth.

“They had the highest innovation score. Which goes to show that in tech, innovation always wins,” said Swan.

CGI plans to host the competition again, as well as continue the mentoring and expanding the resources available to students to participate and grow interest in STEM in more communities.

CGI also plans to expand their umbrella STEM program where they have mentored over 11,000 students. CGI plans to focus on under-represented girls, such as those in minority groups and those with economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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More information can be learned about CGI and their programs on their website.