UTech, Jamaica Team Advances to Finals of the IBMCoders Global Challenge 2020 (University Edition)

(l-r) High achieving final year students, School of Computing and Information Technology, University of Technology, Jamaica, Odain Brown, Juleen Gentles, Joshua Thompson and Roshelle Pinnock, developers of the Plant-IT mobile app.

High achievers of the University of Technology, Jamaica’s, School of Computing and Information Technology, final year students Juleen Gentles, Rochelle Pinnock, Joshua Thompson and Odain Brown have added further acclaim to their growing list of achievements, emerging as finalists in the IBM 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge (University Edition) announced on September 28, 2020.

Through The Call for Code Global challenge, university students were invited to use AI (Artificial Intelligence) blockchain, and data in global solutions to fight climate change and COVID-19.  The UTech, Jamaica team,  with their entry “Plant-IT” presented a mobile application positioned to provide a solution to help users grow their own food. Plant-It aims “to provide a digital ecosystem that lays the foundation for food security and stability, even within times of crisis, for both individuals and families.”  Using IBM Cloud Push Notifications, Plant-IT’s capabilities range from receiving seedlings to designing a garden space on a smartphone and an auction system to sell food within the local community.

Team Lead, Juleen Gentles explains that with Plant-It, you can team up and collaborate with your friends, your family, and get a little bit competitive as it relates to growing your food, and hitting targets and just having fun. This is a movement, zero waste, zero plastic, food security, self-sustenance; these are so many social values that are incorporated in our vision for Plant-It. And we just want to take over the world, showing people that growing your own food is fulfilling, it’s affordable and it’s entirely possible.”

Noting the application’s relevance to the current challenges brought on by COVID-19 and the ongoing effects of Climate Change, the team members contend that the pandemic has highlighted how unprepared the average global citizen is in finding sustainable and feasible food sources.  The app further allows users to access a low-level digital twin of their garden, which gives them a view of what they have planted in their backyards/home gardens along with critical information such as estimated watering schedules, tracking time to reap, and other related alerts.

Against the background of the customary abundance and oversupply from fruit trees locally, the talented Jamaican digital developers also built into their impressive Plant-it app, an online marketplace feature which enables users to share their surplus with others through digital auctioning.  This feature enables both planters/owners and potential buyers so see the average market price for a particular crop.  “This shows Plant-It’s role in enabling extra streams of income,” the developers noted.

The UTech, Jamaica SCIT team occupies the prestigious position as the only team from the Caribbean region to advance to the finals under the COVID-19 and Climate Change tracks of the competition. The other  four university’s selected to square off in the final round scheduled for October 13, 2020 are University of the Andes & Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (Colombia),  University of Wolverhampton (UK), University  of California, Berkely (USA) and University of Sydney (Australia).

Professor Sean Thorpe, Head, SCIT notes that he is confident of victory by the four-member UTech, Jamaica team who are no strangers to outstanding achievement in local and global IT-based competitions.  “I am very confident that the team will win the 2020 event, similar to when they attended the Geneva Switzerland forum and won,” he noted.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 876 970-5299 
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm