Create an App to Help Good Causes

App-E-Feat program seeks engineers to design mobile apps for nonprofits

7 April 2014

Interested in using your programming skills to benefit humanity? Then consider signing up for App-E-Feat, an IEEE initiative that asks members to design mobile apps for nonprofits around the world. Members can sign up for the program through the App-E-Feat website. They will then be matched with an organization that needs help building an app to further its cause.

App-E-Feat is part of IEEE’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. Established in 2005 by former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, CGI each year brings together leaders from a worldwide array of businesses, governments, and nonprofits to come up with solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as poverty, disease, and limited access to education and health care.

IEEE Fellow Karen Panetta proposed the idea for App-E-Feat at CGI’s 2013 annual meeting. She is IEEE-USA vice president of communication and public awareness.

“President Clinton’s plenary address at last year’s CGI meeting addressed the positive impact of mobile apps, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the massive earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010,” Panetta says. “Apps helped rescue workers prioritize their efforts by informing them about the most devastated areas.

“A lot of representatives from nonprofits suggested ways that mobile apps could help their causes, but none were from technology organizations,” she continues. “So I told them we have thousands of volunteer engineers ready to help further their missions: ‘You give us the problems and we’ll give you the engineers to solve them.’” 


To help promote the App-E-Feat program, IEEE-USA launched a contest on 18 February during EWeek 2014—an event that celebrates the engineering profession—challenging participants to write, draw, or develop an app for a good cause. People 18 and older must submit the code for an app, while those between ages 13 and 17 can draw or write about their ideas. Registration is open until 19 May.

First-place winners in each of the two age groups will receive an iPad Air tablet computer. Second- and third-place winners will receive US $250 and $150 gift cards. Each of the top contestants will have the opportunity to work with an IEEE mentor to encourage their technology-development skills and interest.

“Although children may not know how to code and develop an app, they can come up with ideas on how to solve a humanitarian challenge,” Panetta says. “The whole idea of this competition is to expose participants to pressing social issues that technology can help address.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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