Congratulations to the 2020 CGI I.T. Girl Challenge winner: Team Dear Bee

IT girl challenge winners check

Brashear High School students Isabel Mendoza and Kiera Robinson developed the Brashear News 4 You mobile app for the CGI I.T. Girl Challenge this June.

Brashear News 4 You is a mobile app developed to keep the students and teachers informed about what’s happening throughout the school. Unlike other ways to share information, this app incorporates social media and interactions to make it enjoyable so that people will actually use it.  

The judges called the Brashear News 4 You app a “very innovative idea” with “lots of features”. Its “admirable”, “bold”, and “well done on the technical aspect”.

CBS Pittsburgh (KDKA) spotlighted the Challenge and the Team Dear Bee’s mobile app on a segment of their Tech Center program.  

About the Challenge

CGI hosted the CGI I.T. Girl Challenge – a mobile app development competition for girls from Pittsburgh Public Schools. Small teams of two to four high school juniors and seniors partnered with industry mentors to design and develop a smart-phone app. This challenge included seven weekly mentoring sessions and utilized Thunkable, a drag and drop mobile app platform, to compete in the challenge. 

No development experience was required! Teams pitched their mobile app design to a panel of Pittsburgh business executives and community leaders. The team with the most innovative, applicable and creative app was awarded a one-time $20,000 college scholarship split evenly among the winning team members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate?

Student requirements

  • Female high school students (9th - 12th grade)
  • Teams of two to four students to be formed at the discretion of school sponsor
  • No GPA minimum
  • No mobile app design building experience required
  • Must be enrolled in a Pittsburgh Public High School
  • Required attendance: 2 hours per week in after-school team mentoring sessions
  • Required attendance: Day of Challenge on Friday, June 19, virtually

School sponsor requirements

Each team must have one school employee to serve as the team’s sponsor for on-site supervision of all students attending the weekly events, including management of any discipline.

  • Provide computer access to teams once per week (additional time at student requests)
  • Provide discretion around teams that have formed within school
  • Regularly promote the event to eligible students
  • Communicate event details to parents and/or guardians, and applicable school system officials
  • Secure required permissions for participation by students from parents and/or guardians
  • Complete team registration form on behalf of the team no later than Monday, January 2
How does the program work?

Each team will be provided with CGI mentors to partner with on a weekly basis. Mentors will come to the school once per week, through the coordination of the assigned school contact (who must be an employee of Pittsburgh Public Schools). The role of the mentor is not to build the app for students, but rather act as a resource and guide to the students on how to approach common problems they may face when coding.

Below is an outline of the mentoring sessions (2 hours each):

  • Week 1: Intro to coding/tool(s)
  • Week 2: Storyboarding
  • Week 3: Building App I
  • Week 4: Building App II
  • Week 5: Building App III – makeup day or floater week
  • Week 6: Final prep/pitch Day of Challenge: June 19
When and where does the challenge take place?

The event will now take place virtually on June 19 at noon (ET). All participants will receive a Microsoft Teams link to join the virtual event.

What is Thunkable?

This competition will use the mobile application development platform Thunkable exclusively. Thunkable enables anyone to build their own native mobile apps for Android and iOS using drag and drop instead of raw code.

Take a peek at some Thunkable tutorials on YouTube to learn more.

Will we have access to our mentor after our weekly sessions?

Mentors may only interact with students during the scheduled mentor sessions and Day of Challenge event, in the presence of your school sponsor. Questions that need to be answered outside these mentor sessions should be managed through the sponsor.

What happens on the day of the CGI I.T. Girl Challenge?


  • Welcome remarks
  • Demo mobile app to community in booth
  • Pitch mobile app to panel of judges (team will be assigned time)
  • Demo mobile app to community in booth
  • Awards ceremony
How long will we have to pitch our mobile app to the panel of judges?

Each team will be given eight minutes to pitch their mobile app to the panel of judges.  The pitch will be followed by up to four minutes of questions.  Your team will be assigned a specific pitching time prior to the Day of Challenge. 

What is the demo station for?

Each team will be given a table and table cover to set up for their demo station.  Here, the teams can show off their mobile app to the local community, local executives and media outlets.  Students may use additional supplies, as required.

Can we invite family and friends to attend the Day of Challenge?

Yes.  Each team may invite up to 10 family members/friends to attend at the CGI Pittsburgh office. 

How will the mobile app be judged?

The panel of judges will consist of executives and community leaders across Pittsburgh to include CGI, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Public School district and our corporate partners. Each judge will be given a judge's scorecard with the following guidelines.

Three scoring criteria exist with a score of 1 to 5 (1 being low and 5 being superior).

Concept & presentation – 35% of overall score

  • Provide a clear description of the problem/issue and explain how it affects community
  • Description of the mobile application/explanation of application’s ability to solve the identified problem and provide community benefits
  • Pitch to judging panel

Technical skill – 35% of overall score

  • Completeness of the solution
  • Intuition of the user experience
  • Advanced usage of Thunkable features (scratch, template program, etc.)

Innovation –  30% of overall score

  • Uniqueness of mobile app
  • Creative thinking

Total points: 3-15 points per judge. There will be multiple judges from different backgrounds and disciplines.

*NOTE: In the case of a tie in total points, the team with the highest innovation points will win the scholarship funds.

Our partners

We would like to thank our partners at Pittsburgh Public Schools, Carnegie Mellon University and our corporate partners for assisting us in making this program possible.