CongressHot Sheet

Ken Buck salutes his district’s Congressional App Challenge winners Evan Hassman, Hunter Burley

Author: Ernest Luning - December 10, 2017 - Updated: February 7, 2018

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Erie High School students Hunter Burley and Evan Hassman, winners of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for Colorado's 4th Congressional District for their app "In Space, Out of Gas." (Courtesy photos)
Erie High School students Hunter Burley and Evan Hassman, winners of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District for their app “In Space, Out of Gas.” (Courtesy photos)

Erie High School students Evan Hassman and Hunter Burley are this year’s Congressional App Challenge winners for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck announced Friday. The two won for “In Space, Out of Gas,” a role-playing game set in a perilous outer space environment.

The national competition, sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus, challenged students in 190 participating congressional districts to show off their programming skills. More than 4,100 students took part this year, organizers said, submitting more than 1,250 apps — nearly twice as many as last year.

“I’m incredibly proud of everyone who participated in the Congressional App Challenge this year,” Buck said in a statement. “This challenge encourages students around the country to develop a STEM skillset and in doing so, prepare for a future career that contributes in important ways to the American economy.” He added, “I applaud Evan and Hunter for investing their time and effort in this creative app idea.”

A zoomed screenshot of "In Space, Out of Gas," an app written by Erie High School students Evan Hassman and Hunter Burley for the 2017 Congressional App Challenge. Their app won the competition in Colorado's 4th Congressional District, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck. (via YouTube)
A zoomed screenshot of “In Space, Out of Gas,” an app written by Erie High School students Evan Hassman and Hunter Burley for the 2017 Congressional App Challenge. Their app won the competition in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck. (via YouTube)

The team wrote the app using the Scratch programming language. “If you enjoy these types of games or enjoy games in general, you can have a blast doing it,” Hassman says in a video introducing and demonstrating the app. (In the brief video, below, Burley takes the game for a spin as the infectious electronic pop instrumental “Popcorn” plays in the background.)

Like the other winning coders or teams of coders from participating congressional districts, Hassman and Burley have been invited to present their apps to lawmakers and members of the tech community in April at a reception in Washington, D.C., called #HouseOfCode. Their work will be on display at the U.S. Capitol and on the House of Representative’s website for the next year.

“This year the Congressional App Challenge has expanded its reach, with notable inroads in rural America and with underrepresented minorities and young women” said Rachel Decoste, Director of the Challenge. “This has been a banner year thanks to our sponsors, partners and the dedicated educators who are at the heart of this initiative’s success.”

A panel of judges from Colorado’s tech community evaluated entries to pick the winner, Buck’s office said. The winning students also each get $250 in Amazon Web Service credits, donated by the online retailer.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.