50 teams compete in coding contest for girls

App contestants
Rochester middle schoolers (from left) Samira Ibraahamo, Anjali Donthi and Tiera Felder pitched their design for a mobile app to combat hunger at a competition May 1, 2016.
Solvejg Wastvedt | MPR News

Updated 9:40 a.m. | Posted 5:30 a.m.

A coding competition for middle and high school girls aims to get more young women involved in technology. Fifty teams from across Minnesota met Sunday to pitch mobile app designs.

Rochester middle-schooler Samira Ibraahamo and her team built an app to combat hunger by connecting people with nearby food resources. Ibraahamo says when she started coding, it was a learning curve.

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"My first year was last year, and I was like, 'What did I get myself into?" Ibraahamo said. "And then this is my second year, and I was like, 'Oh, thank God. It's easier.'"

Ibraahamo and her two teammates are young women and students of color, so they're minorities in tech. But that doesn't bother teammate Tiera Felder.

"If there isn't very many, we'll represent all of them that are a part of it, and we'll encourage more people to be in it," Felder said.

Another team made up of Rochester-area eighth-graders built an app to provide information and resources to combat sex trafficking. Team member Claire Turner said the 12-week app design process was her first experience with coding.

"It was a little overwhelming, but we got it all done and it was really fun," she said.

Seven of the 50 teams moved on to an international semifinal round. Both Ibraahamo's and Turner's teams were among the semifinalists. Finals will be held in Silicon Valley in July.