FAU Students Develop Meal Delivery App to Help Local Seniors
By Cheryl Halle | January 2016
IBM Provided New Software for Deployment of the Student's Ideas
Meals on Wheels (MOW) of the Palm Beaches faces many challenges in its service to local senior citizens. As a non-profit organization that functions mostly by the help of volunteers, they wanted to find an online solution to become more efficient in their operations. Florida Atlantic University students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science were asked to develop a cost effective, user-friendly meal delivery app to help with this challenge.
To aid the students in their program development, IBM provided them with access to IBM Bluemix™, its new cloud platform. IBM also hosted student workshops and provided support services from local IBM engineers to help mentor the students on how to develop their ideas.
"Giving students a chance to use the latest industry technologies like IBM Bluemix™ gives them the opportunity to develop and deliver great projects, and also prepares them for opportunities in the workforce," said FAU alumnus David Jaramillo, Ph.D., Manager of Cloud Engineering & Services for IBM.
Nine teams of students from the FAU Principles of Software Engineering class taught by Shihong Huang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the FAU Department of Computer & Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, worked on developing an online interface that MOW volunteers and administrators could use from a desktop computer or mobile device.
"My teaching philosophy is to give students the knowledge and tools they can use to solve real world problems and have a positive impact on our society," said Huang. "This project has been a great experience for my students to help our community and senior citizens."
Charles B. Ring, III, founder and advisor of Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches; Randy Scheid, vice president of Programs, Quantum Foundation; and Jaramillo reviewed each team's presentation and selected Team Bug Masters as the best of the nine. Team members include computer science majors Nicholas Kehagias, Roxana Ohriniuc, Maciej Medyk, Fahad Alqattan and Andrews Leao.
"Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches is impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and critical thinking displayed by the FAU students," said Pam Calzadilla, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches.
The team created a responsive website called MOW Delivery that allows drivers to access and view their route sheets, obtain navigational support and provide delivery status information. Using the program, administrators also have the ability to track ongoing deliveries. IBM has offered to help the team deploy their project as a product.
MOW of the Palm Beaches is one of 5,000 MOW of America programs that help provide meals to seniors. They are a non-profit organization that receives support from the Quantum Foundation, a private grantmaking organization that supports health care projects. In 2014, MOW of the Palm Beaches delivered approximately 15,000 meals to Palm Beach county senior citizens.