In an effort to have more students nationwide pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, members of Congress, including Rep. Charles Rangel, have launched the House Student App Challenge, a competition for high school students from his district.

The initiative was officially launched last Friday at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and will promote entrepreneurialism in Rangel’s district “that is in the mecca of technology,” he said. Students at high schools located in New York’s 13th Congressional District will compete, with assistance from mentors, by creating a software application for mobile, tablet or a computer devices on a platform of their choice, he said.

“We hope to use this program to identify shared interests, find the needs of students, and we hope that when the competition is over, opportunities will be open to have this keep going,” said Rangel at the launch.

After the applications are created, a panel of STEM experts will determine the best ones. The winning entries will then be featured at an interactive exhibit at the U.S. Capitol.

Said Rangel, “Students are hungry to learn, and I’d like to make this a real center while working with the business community and schools.”

Clayton Banks, the executive director of Silicon Harlem, which is coordinating the program, said, “This is an outlet for high school students that they never had before to express themselves and … create a viable app.”

Banks said the types of apps that he is expecting students to make range from games and entertainment to utility and emergency.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school students are proficient in mathematics and are interested in pursuing a career in STEM fields. The U.S. Department of Commerce also reported Americans employed in STEM fields earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts.