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Student Teams Present Ideas for UA Sustainability, Safety
As part of an introductory course, UA pre-business freshmen developed dozens of ideas to help improve sustainability, safety and and cross-department synergies on campus.
One student group shared ideas around developing a password-protected website enabling University of Arizona students to advertise items and services to sell to others on campus.
Another suggested a mobile app that would allow riders to track the location of UA CatTran shuttles in real-time.
And for all you Campus Recreation users – what if you could generate energy for the UA just by getting a workout on the fitness equipment?
Teams of pre-business majors – all of them Honors College students – presented those ideas, along with dozens of others, during the MIS 111 Honors Freshman Project Showcase held Dec. 8.
Creating synergies on campus to strengthen existing programs and improving safety and sustainability were the areas of focus this year, culminating an introductory fall course for the students.
Taylor B. Billington said she and her team were especially drawn to a project centered on increasing sustainability efforts.
Billington and her collaborators proposed "Energy 'Pop,'" a plan to replace standard vending machines with those that have higher Energy Star ratings.
"We wanted to focus on energy saving and sustainability; sustainability because the UA has done a lot of work in this area already," Billington said.
All of the student presenters took William T. Neumann's course, MIS 111, which is the springboard class for incoming freshmen pursuing studies in the Eller College of Management.
"This is what we do at the Eller College," said Neumann, a senior lecturer for the management information systems department.
"We are business people who solve real problems, and we have to present those solutions," Neumann said, adding that he designed the course and showcase so that students could get that experience early on.
The students presented their ideas to representatives of various UA departments, hoping to see them developed further. Other idea proposed include:
- "eCYCLE" would store kinetic energy produced by people using machines at Campus Recreation. The idea was developed by Tim Brousse, Austin Paeper and Lauren Preble.
- Students, faculty and staff would be able to find empty parking spaces using "Cat Track," which would utilize radio-frequency identification technology and offered through a mobile app for Android and Apple smartphones. Alex Huhn, Marisa Marsteller, Mary Bowen and Nadine Merheb worked together on the project.
- "The A List" would operate as a password protected site, allowing UA students to advertise goods and services, like supplies, rentals and tutoring. The idea was developed by Crystalblue Gaytan, Peter Reynolds and Jacob Borcover.
- Tyler Miller, Trevor Morgan, Cody Franz and Cameron Chery presented "Lamination Innovation," replacing restaurant paper ordering slips with laminated, reusable slips.
The team that presented "Safe Ride on the Web" proposed an online reservation service for the hugely popular Safe Ride, a student-run service providing evening rides to students on and near campus.
The team first studied the demand, finding that Safe Ride averages nearly 500 calls daily, but cannot always meet the huge demand. The team believes that an online registration system, coupled with the telephone service, would allow for a swifter service at a higher volume.
"More students use it and more students want to use it," said team member Sarada Thanikachalam, who added that the team focused on ways to further enhance the program's efficiency."
Thanikachalam said the program is especially important as it provides "a secure alternative to walking alone a night," something that generates great interest in the program.
"Safe Ride is a student-run organization; therefore, finding a business solution to improving the efficiency would be beneficial for students and even faculty members who utilize Safe Ride," Thanikachalam said.
The system also would calculate the wait time for users, providing this information via smartphones.
"There is software available that could do this for as little as $50 a month, which is less than one percent of Safe Ride's budget," said Jenifer Wong, another team member.
Neumann, also the director of projects undergraduate and graduate programs, said some of the ideas students proposed may have a chance at being implemented.
In the past, student-led projects that have been implemented with funding from the UA's Green Fund include LED-based lighting on campus and the biodiesel program involving University kitchens, Neumann said.Another important function of the class, he said, is in developing bonds between the students early in their careers at the UA.
"They're not just Honors College students or Eller students, but they are honors Eller students," Neumann said. "We are building a sense of community, which helps make our University to feel a little bit smaller."