IS Christmas Tree Blesses Children

IMG_7676.JPGChristmas festivities are in full swing, and many people—including information system students—are joining in on the holiday cheer in a big way to help children at Primary Children’s Hospital.

The BYU Association for Information Systems Club (AIS) recently donated a tree to the annual Festival of Trees event. Adorned with silver ornaments and lights that dance up and down the branches in sync with Christmas tunes, their tree caught the eyes of spectators and was purchased for $3,510 by a charitable donor.

Students programmed the tree’s lights to change colors and flash at various speeds to ten different Christmas songs. They also created a Web UI that allows the music to be controlled with a smartphone. “Christmas in Utah” was the theme for the tree featuring snow and white silver ornaments with a park bench, cozy blankets, and skis next to the tree. The project was sponsored by the AIS club, but all IS students were invited to contribute as well.

The IS tree was one of 700 Christmas tree displays decorated and donated by organizations and individuals. On the first day of the event, the trees are auctioned off with all the proceeds benefiting the Primary Children’s Hospital.

“I think this project goes hand in hand with the whole mission of BYU: enter to learn, go forth to serve,” says Cody Pettit, AIS club member and the team lead for the light programming. “If we as students serve before we go out into the world, we’re not only learning technical business skills, we’re also getting a sense of how we can serve the community with our skills.”

img_5477Austen Smack, a 2016 graduate from the IS program, originally proposed the idea of putting together a Festival of Trees entry and led the first tree decorating last year. He believes that although the money goes to the hospital, this service project benefits the IS program as well.

“It was really cool to put this Christmas tree in our lab and for two months see it there every day,” Smack says. “The tree was a prominent reminder to all the IS students of giving back and service throughout those months. I think it had a really big impact at the end of the day.”

Students and faculty hope future students will continue to spread the holiday spirit by participating in the Festival of Trees every year.

“To create something that’s sustainable and that people want to do year after year, that’s real success,” says Tom Meservy, AIS faculty advisor and IS associate teaching professor. “We just have amazing students that want to use their technical skills for good, and this is just one of the ways that they’re doing that.”