Student Success

FIU Business hosts AIS student conference, wins first place in Assurant Smart Cities case study competition.

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The newest trends in information systems and analytics were put to the test by hundreds of students from 20 Association of Information Systems (AIS) student chapters worldwide during the 2023 AIS Student Chapter Leadership Conference at FIU Business this spring.

The conference, which drew 200 students, featured competitions focused on artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity, a smart cities case study and more. The 10th annual event brought together the brightest minds in information systems to compete in six tracks for a chance at winning $2,000 as the first-place prize in each challenge.

FIU Business landed a first prize win during the Assurant Smart Cities case competition with a team comprised by undergraduates Ishel Zain, Amber Hwang and Thi Thuy Nga Pham. The challenge was to use technology and available data to support or improve a current government institution’s functionality.

Their solution was to create a real-time parking app that utilizes smart nodes to monitor available spaces throughout a city - a clever answer to a very relatable dilemma. It was the students’ use of AI to create a demo video for their app that wowed the judges.

“We wanted to come up with a solution to tackle the parking issue that was new, innovative and practical,” said Zain. “So that’s what we did, our Smart Parking app is one of a kind.”

During the Cyber Strategy Challenge, teams were tasked with developing a strategy to help a medical center bolster the security of patient data, while migrating that data to a new server and doing it all on a lower budget.

Many of the teams had similar approaches including using trusted vendors, pricey software and leveraging trained staff. The team from Brigham Young University took home 1st place, with Utah State University second and University of Georgia third in that challenge.

The AI-assisted Analytics Challenge tested the students’ abilities to harness one of the buzziest new technologies, artificial intelligence, requiring the use of ChatGPT or PubMedChatGPT to analyze FDA data on drug approvals to spot trends or gain insight.

“It’s like using ChatGPT as another team member,” said judge Michael Erskine, professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

The FIU Business Gold team earned 2nd place and a $1,000 prize. Their approach compared the FDA’s data with counterpart European Medicine Agency (EMA), discovering a delay of roughly 162 days in approvals from the EMA.

In between competitions, the students participated in the “Microsoft Women in STEM” panel where judges discussed opportunities and challenges for women in the field.

Two challenges that most panelists pointed out as keeping women out of STEM fields are gender bias and lack of awareness.

“When I go to universities to recruit students and they see me, I see it in their eyes ‘she’s like me,’” said Julissa Judd, program manager at Microsoft. “I try to myself [make] visible, provide mentorship, and let that person know there are so many areas of STEM. There is engineering in lipstick.”

Others pointed out that making STEM easier to understand for other people is key.

“Sometimes we have an image of a person with huge glasses coding all day and all night,” said Silvia Soto Avella (MSIS '18), change manager at Microsoft. “While that can be true, it can also be a female who is managing a team, jumping on a plane to Paris and enjoying her bonuses, which is me. How do we tell that story for our younger generation?”

The conference included sponsorship from Assurant, PayCargo, Cybersecurity@FIU, the Jack D. Gordon Institute For Public Policy at FIU and others.