CARENCRO — Students in Carencro High’s Academy of Information Technology have been tapped to create the next can’t-live-without-it app as part of a national competition organized by technology giant Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation, a network of nearly 600 career-themed academies.
The academy in Carencro was one of 10 academies in the country selected for the Lenovo Scholar Network, a national mobile application development competition designed to pique students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math careers while preparing them for the workforce.
As part of the competition, students are requited to design and develop a mobile app and business plan to carry their app from concept to consumer.
While providing students experience in developing apps, it also will teach them project management skills like meeting deadlines and working as a team, said Joel Hilburn, Carencro High Academy of Information Technology teacher.
Hilburn’s programming class, which includes 28 juniors, will participate in the competition.
He said part of what the Carencro High academy does is to focus students on work-based skills, not just technology skills.
“It fits in with what we’ve been doing all along in our program,” Hilburn said. “Our students participate in summer internships.”
The competition offers students real-word experience, particularly as more technology companies plan to move to and expand in Lafayette, said Marcy Aycock, regional academy development manager for the National Academy Foundation.
Claire Trouard, director of the Carencro High academy, told students that hundreds of schools entered for a chance to participate in the competition. She told them they should be proud that the academy was one of 10 in the country selected.
The academy’s inclusion in the Lenovo Scholar Network brings with it equipment — 15 Think Pad laptops and 15 Yoga tablets, along with expertise of National Academy Foundation and Massachusetts Institute of Technology staff.
Students will use the MIT App Inventor, a web-based tool used for creating Android apps.
Principal Ken Roebuck thanked the company for the technology during a recent presentation at the school.
“It’s difficult to find the resources we need to keep us on the cutting edge,” Roebuck said.
Hilburn told a Lenovo representative at the presentation that the equipment will make a difference in helping students create and troubleshoot their apps.
When students create their apps on a desktop or laptop computer, they use a virtual mobile device emulator that mimics a mobile device to test how the application appears and functions on a mobile device. Hilburn told students that access to the Lenovo tablets should help them with some issues they were running into using the emulator.
“Equipment makes a difference. The rest is up to you,” he told students.
“Ideas that change the world start with young people like you.”
Students have developed simple applications — a soundboard app that can be used to create different sounds — but they haven’t yet solidified their ideas for an app to create for the competition, said Connor Howat, 16.
“We made two soundboard apps for practice,” said Howat, who is zoned to attend Lafayette High, but applied to attend Carencro’s academy to pursue his interest in computers.
Chardonnay Portalis, 16, and her friends are set on producing strategy and logic game apps. Following the presentation, she and her classmates, Brooke Blanchard, 16, Courtney Kline, 17, Jawuan Espadron, 17, and Philip Derouen, 16, brainstormed the potential for logic games, even “how-to” apps to encourage independent learning.
Some of the students don’t have plans to pursue technology careers after high school, but chose to attend the academy — some even out of their home zoned schools — because they value the skills they’ve learned.
“The future is going to be all technology-based,” said Kline, who wants to be a forensic pathologist.
“It’s better to know and to be ahead,” added Blanchard, who wants to study graphic design.
“It gives you the advantage,” said Espadron, who plans to study business administration in college.
A total of 150 students are enrolled in the academy, which started about 10 years ago. The academy has been recognized nationally and a few years ago helped test broadband capabilities in the classroom through a partnership with Lafayette Utilities System, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Bay Area Video Coalition, a San Francisco-based nonprofit media center. That partnership garnered it national attention and recognition from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with its My Source Education Innovation Award in 2010.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.