Industrial design student offers ideas for transit improvements

The University of Kansas, the City of Lawrence and MV Transportation have partnered to provide a new scholarship designed to support experiential learning opportunities for KU students interested in the transportation industry.

The scholarship is funded by MV Transportation, the private transportation contracting firm that operates Lawrence Transit under contract with the City of Lawrence and KU on Wheels. MV created the scholarship opportunity to give students interested in pursuing careers in public transit more real world experience in the industry.

KU student, Amber Hanschu, a senior majoring in industrial design, is the first recipient of a $2,500 scholarship. The focus of Amber’s senior thesis project is to increase bus use by raising awareness and creating a versatile bus stop system that focuses on comfort, usability, and community. Amber’s advisor, Professor Huw Thomas, said he and Amber have begun discussions about the project and the many scenarios that would make for an interesting study into mass transit systems, with a focus upon the changing seasonal demands of a university campus and town such as Lawrence.

“I can’t begin to describe how excited I am about this partnership, Amber’s project and just how much fun this project has been to be a part of,” said Mike Sweeten, MV’s General Manager responsible for managing the Lawrence Transit operation. “Amber’s proposed project is perfectly aligned with MV’s values and customer focus, and our desire as a company is to help groom the future leaders of transportation.”

The call for applications for the fall 2015 semester was released May 1. Scholarships will be awarded annually to students who demonstrate academic merit and preference given to students interested in careers in transit or public transportation. Recipients are expected to work on a project related to public transportation during the scholarship semester. Questions about the scholarship should go to John Augusto, assistant vice provost for experiential learning, jaugusto@ku.edu.

“What an exciting time and a great partnership. Thanks to MV Transportation for creating such a great opportunity for KU students,” said Robert Nugent, Public Transit Administrator for Lawrence Transit.

“We are so pleased that our contractor, MV Transportation, has chosen to extend this support every year to one of our outstanding KU students. It is a unique extension of our working partnership,” said Danny Kaiser, Assistant Director of KU Parking and Transit.

The scholarship funds will be administered by the KU Endowment Association, the official fundraising affiliate of the University of Kansas.