Provided/From left, District Superintendent Philip Guenther, 2024 Congressional App Challenge winner Ryan Johnson, ACIT Principal Joseph Potkay and Board President Mark W. Ludwick.


MAYS LANDING – An Atlantic County Institute of Technology senior has what you need to get a better night’s sleep.

Ryan Johnson of Egg Harbor Township, a Computer Science student in the vocational technical school, took first place in the 2023 Congressional App Challenge for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. Johnson was recently recognized by the Board of Education for his success in creating “Circadian,” an app that can help manage sleep schedules and provide you with tips on how to get more restful nights.

“This app was inspired by a few things, most notably by how I would often get less than four hours of sleep each night before school due to having a poorly managed sleep schedule,” Johnson said when he was asked why he created the app. “I was also inspired by a book I read called, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, which opened my eyes to how dangerous sleep deprivation can truly be.”

The app includes three main components, Johnson said. The first lets you schedule your sleep schedule according to your needs with a pleasant alarm to wake you up. It also provides data from the CDC on how to get a good night’s sleep. A third component uses your cell phone to track your movements during the night to determine how well you sleep.

Johnson was among 11,335 students nationwide who participated in the contest, which is designed to encourage innovation in the field of technology and provide young people with a path toward success. The challenge has grown over the last several years and has marked a 1,000-student increase in participation since 2019.

According to a release, the “enthusiasm and creativity” displayed by the students reflect their “growing interest in technology” and signals a “bright future for innovation.”

Congressman Jeff Van Drew hosted the challenge for students in District 2. The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn coding and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. The winners were invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during the annual #HouseOfCode festival held April 11-12. More than 360 winning students from 47 states and territories attended the celebration.

The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

“Ryan did a great job creating his app,” ACIT Principal Joseph Potkay said Monday. “It’s definitely something that can be utilized and sold.”

It is not the first time an ACIT student has taken the top prize in the regional competition.

“ACIT has won the Congressional App Challenge multiple times over the last five or six years,” Potkay said. “We have been very successful in preparing our students to work in the field of technology.”

Johnson, who will attend his commencement ceremony June 17 at Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, plans to continue his education at one of two leading technology universities – New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark or Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

Students can learn more about the Congressional App Challenge, which launched its 2024 contest this month, by visiting


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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.