In the past year, people downloaded more than 17 billion apps to their mobile phones and tablet computers.

In the past year, people downloaded more than 17 billion apps to their mobile phones and tablet computers, and that number is expected to skyrocket in the next two years.

That’s why students at North Carolina’s Apex High School will be among those at five schools nationally who will be learning how to design and market mobile apps, as part of a test program launched by computer maker Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that develops education programs for public schools.

Students will work in teams to create a real-world mobile app during the 12-week, after-school course. Enrollment is optional, but as of Jan. 24, 30 Apex students had registered, said Julie Oster, director of the Academy of Information Technology, an Apex High School program that follows the NAF curriculum.

Among them is sophomore Sullivan Figurskey, who said he is looking forward to the first course.

“I think this will be one of those programs I’ll remember, because it will shape the future of my academic career,” Sullivan said.

On Jan. 24, Lenovo and NAF announced the course at a press conference in the Apex High media center. They were joined by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue and Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Tony Tata.

Lenovo donated 30 Android-based ThinkPad tablets and several ThinkCentre HD All-in-One desktop computers for the program; the company worked with NAF and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the curriculum. The program will teach students not only technology skills such as coding and programming, but also how to create a business plan to market their apps.