Team of 5 Female Students Help Create an App to Facilitate Food Donation During Natural Disasters
Earlier this year, EPICS in IEEE announced the completion of a milestone project lead by the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Ohio University.
Ohio University’s team along with six pre-university students completed a mobile application project, called iFood, which was developed to facilitate food donation during natural disasters to minimize food waste. The team consisted of five female students and two male students who completed the first phase of the iFood project over four months, with the majority of the work executed during summer break.
Since the year 2000, over 3,000 natural disasters have occurred. Often times during a disaster, like a hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami, regular distribution channels are disrupted, and sometimes completely shut down. Getting donated items, such as food, to the point where they are needed becomes a problematic challenge that can be the source of a considerable amount of food waste. Ohio University’s student team recognized this issue and with the assistance of an EPICS in IEEE grant, developed the first phase of iFood. The iFood app facilitates real-time information sharing and global coordination and cooperation.
“With a smartphone in everyone’s hands, a mobile application that can make a timely connection would be instrumental in facilitating food donations. While there are numerous apps dedicated to reducing food waste, this app is specifically geared for disaster relief,” said Dr. Chang Liu, Ohio University associate professor who spearheaded the project. “Thanks to the EPICS in IEEE grant, our student team was given the opportunity to apply their skill sets to implement innovative solutions for food gathering and distribution, mentor upcoming students, and become more socially conscious during the project.”
“iFood has the ability to revolutionize the way food is distributed during natural disasters,” said Ray Alcantara, EPICS in IEEE program manager. “We are very proud of Ohio University’s student team. That’s why EPICS in IEEE is committed to encouraging and motivating the engineers of tomorrow, helping them acquire skills and educational experiences so that they can give back to their local communities and work toward transforming lives through technology.”
If future funds are awarded, the iFood app will continue to be a platform of learning opportunities for students. “It is our goal to move forward with a second phase that would include fully implementing all designed functionalities of the application and making the app open source,” explained Dr. Liu.
The student volunteer team was recognized for their efforts in October at the 2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in San Jose, California where they were announced as the winner of the conference’s Call for Solutions competition.