Student Success

Smart Forest app plants FIU Business in first place at global software challenge.

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Smart Forest app plants FIU Business in first place at global software challenge.

Undergraduate and master’s degree students worldwide showcased their classroom knowledge at the 2023 AIS Software Innovation Challenge, and three FIU Business undergraduate business analytics students won first place.

The virtual event tasked students with developing and presenting their software-based information systems solutions to focus on any of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending poverty, clean energy, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

“Our topic is about deforestation,” said Thi Thuy Nga Pham, double majoring in information systems. “The reason why we came up with the solution for the smart forest is because this year, we have had several incidents of forest fires in the Amazon, and other forests in the U.S.”

Caring for the planet is something all the students felt passionately about and were motivated by the challenge’s call to action.

“I came here about two years ago from Peru, and ever since I was very little, I’ve had this weight of social responsibility in the back of my head that just determines every decision that I make,” said Vania Arredondo Vera. “For me just being able to tackle those goals was amazing.”

The students developed Sireen, an app that will work with internet of things (IoT) devices connected within the forests to deliver updates on conditions like visibility, temperature and carbon dioxide levels. If levels rise to unsafe amounts, alarms will trigger. The data is displayed in a user-friendly dashboard and the app is gamified to incentivize users to participate.

Developing and coding the app took the students out of their comfort zone.

“We’re all business students and that part of technology is something we were very new to,” said Ishel Zain, also double majoring in information systems. “But Professor Edward Duran was the one who mentored us and opened the doors to Java Script, and we figured out that all of us are actually good at it.”

While the students all share a passion for sustainability and other U.N. goals, they also understand that for many companies, the decision to be proactive can also be a financial one.

“As a business, your reputation really matters,” said Zain. “Companies are willing to pay millions of dollars just to get that good reputation and I've seen businesses crumbling just because they don't support certain goals.”

Competition judges awarded another first place prize to Middle Tennessee State University, and New Mexico State University took home third place.