Novi High student wins congressional app contest

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published January 24, 2024

 Ishaan Sid, a junior at Novi High School, shows the app he designed to win the Congressional App Challenge for the 6th District.

Ishaan Sid, a junior at Novi High School, shows the app he designed to win the Congressional App Challenge for the 6th District.

Photo provided by the Novi Community School District


NOVI — A Novi High School junior was named the winner of the Congressional App Challenge for Michigan’s 6th District by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell earlier this month.

Each district in the U.S. House of Representatives holds a contest annually to encourage students to code and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Students are asked to come up with an app that can help the community in some way.

Ishaan Sid created an app that is meant to help teenage drivers be safer on the roads. The app, called Safe Drive, tracks the driver’s speed as well as the speed limit on the road and audibly alerts the driver when going too fast. The app also will alert the teen’s parents via text that their child is speeding so that they can speak with their child about it.

“It’s for teen drivers like me,” Sid said. “When I first started driving, I had trouble focusing on the road and focusing on my speed at the same time, so it’s just, like, one less thing to have to worry about. I can focus more on the road and not have to worry about focusing on my speed, because the phone would alert me if I was speeding.”

“I thought it was really innovative and very connected to the problems that teens, and especially parents with teens, face,” said Kristin Franchi, who teaches Advanced Placement computer science at NHS. “I think the most successful apps, and the ones that become the most popular, are the ones that really pinpoint a serious problem that people have, and I think that parents of teenagers all over the world, when they send their kids off into a car, it’s like you’re part outside your body and you just have to let them explore the world — at least explore their city in the car, which you know can be incredibly dangerous.

“So having the ability to let them have their independence and do this thing that lets them become closer and closer to becoming an adult, but with a little bit of a security net where you can use an app to just make sure they are following the rules that you instilled in them early on when they first get that license … I can see parents having an interest in this, because it gives them a little bit of a security net that way; if they are noticing their student’s driving a little bit outside of the rules, they can rein that in before it becomes something of a tragedy or a ticket or whatever. I just think it really targets a fear and a worry that parents have.”

Franchi said she thinks coding is cool because you can “kind of create something out of nothing.” She said that by having coding skills, when one starts to see problems in the world, one has the ability to address those issues.

“We definitely teach all the things that you need in order to become proficient in writing Java code, but I think beyond that is how to think like a computer programmer and how to think like a computer scientist, so if you do see problems out in the world and there potentially is a solution via technology, you would then be able to apply those skills,” Franchi said.

She described Sid as an “exceptional” student and a very skilled programmer. She said he has the ability to take a problem and break it down into manageable parts and determine the coded solution for it.

Sid has been coding since fourth grade and currently participates in the Frog Force Robotics team, where he is responsible for helping to make the team’s scouting app to help the team scout out other teams. He said he has made several smaller apps just for himself, but this is the first app that has a lot of functionality and can be used in daily life.   

“I was really surprised (to have won),” Sid said. “It gave me kind of, like, validation for all the work I put into it. … I spent a lot of time putting this app together over the summer, so I was really glad that it got put to good use and that it will get a lot of publicity and people will be able to see it so that it will, hopefully, help people.”

Sid plans to attend the University of Michigan in 2025 and pursue a degree in both computer science and business. He said he would like to have a career in the financial technology industry.

He advises others who enjoy coding to continue to pursue it.

“Keep coding. You should code if it makes you feel happy. I love coding, which is why I got into it,’ he said.

As a winner of the Congressional App Challenge, Sid will go to Washington, D.C., April 10-11 for the #HouseofCode to meet Dingell and show his app alongside the other winners to members of Congress.

Sid said he hopes the Safe Drive app will become something outside of the challenge. He hopes for it to be available in the Apple App Store later this year. For a video about the app, which contains a link under “more” to download it for Android phones, visit and search for “congressional app challenge safe driver.”

Franchi said Sid is the third student she has had at Novi High School to win the Congressional App Challenge.