All-Latina team from Camelback High School wins statewide app challenge

For too long, young women like Olivia Higuera and her classmates have been underrepresented in careers involving science, technology, engineering, and math.

Higuera and three other students — all Hispanic women from Camelback High School — achieved a milestone, winning the Verizon Innovative App Challenge and beating 1,200 other entries statewide. Their app concept is called “SHOPEASY,” designed to make grocery shopping quick and efficient.

“We came across people complaining about how stressful it is to go shopping, and that’s how SHOPEASY came about,” Higuera said.

The idea behind SHOPEASY is to organize grocery shopping lists. Using an indoor GPS system, the app guides shoppers through the grocery store to list items, cutting shopping time significantly. The app would also alert shoppers of discounts and coupons available at any grocery store.

Nationwide, the team placed 13th out of 91 teams.

The feat was significant, especially for Hispanic women. Although women make up close to 50 percent of the country’s workforce, only 27 percent of the STEM workforce is made up of women. Less than 10 percent of that number are minority women. However, the STEM industry is putting forth efforts to encourage students and women to pursue careers in STEM.

Marketing teacher Maria Abrams told the team about the app challenge in November. The team worked on the concept for almost two months with Abrams’ constant support.

“There are so many possibilities and opportunities in these careers for young women to be role models, and young Hispanic women especially,” said Abrams.

The team was awarded $5,000 toward the high school’s marketing and entrepreneurship club and tablets for the team members.

The girls are now looking for support to develop their app.