Academic Excellence

2021 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge

Written by Yee Kit Chan, Katherine Chen, and Asia Wijaya (Class of 2022)
Photographs by Dr. Yu Chen (AP Computer Science A teacher)

On November 30th, the students from the AP Computer Science A class at Developing Virtue Secondary School celebrated their very first National Computer Security Day in an incredibly unique and special way. We competed in the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, a yearly competition hosted by San Jose State University that pulls competitors from all over the world to pitch their products.

Apart from their geographic locations, the participants also varied in their levels of education; many had already gained years of experience as MBA students. However, we were not discouraged, and inspired by the new challenge, we worked hard to visualize our products, create compelling presentations, and engage the audience with our 90-second pitches.

As we brainstormed, our AP Computer Science A teacher and mentor, Dr. Yu Chen, suggested a great starting point: the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each of us selected SDGs we were most interested in, and then we discussed amongst ourselves to form groups with similar interests. Using the Design Thinking Process, we created Empathy Maps, delving into the thoughts and needs of potential users so that our ideas could best serve the target audience.

Team AJA
Team Firenaut
Team Restire

Eventually, we created three groups: AJA, Firenaut, and Restire, with three to four people working collaboratively in each. Each group came up with novel ideas, specifically a game that supports girl’s education, a comprehensive wildfire preparedness app, and an app that helps low-wage workers re-enter the workforce, respectively.

Prototyping for these app concepts was done through Figma, a web-based vector design tool utilized by industry professionals. While this was the first time using it for most students, we practiced adaptability and were able to learn a new piece of software within a matter of days. Team Firenaut even managed to triumph against the competition and win the Best Elevator Pitch award! Throughout the competition, we used our ingenuity while amassing knowledge about the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.