KU Design students create innovative projects for city transportation

The University of Kansas, City of Lawrence and MV Transportation have announced the 2015-2016 recipients of the MV Transportation Scholarship, designed to support experiential learning opportunities for current KU students.

Scholarships were awarded to both an individual and team project.

The team of graphic design student Lynne Pierce, Lee's Summit, and industrial design student Parker Lathrop, Leawood, also in the design department, are recipients of a $3,500 scholarship. Their project will give Lawrence Transit a new brand image, accompanied with the development of a mobile app, to increase riders’ satisfaction in the public transportation system.

The intention is to instill confidence in both current and future riders of Lawrence Transit, according to Pierce and Lathrop.

“By designing a mobile application and rebranding Lawrence Transit, we will elevate consumers’ trust that the service will always be friendly, recognizable, and most importantly, approachable,” they said.

“Their proposed project has the potential to make a strong and lasting impact on the City of Lawrence,” said their adviser, Design Professor Tim Hossler.

Alexander Guinn, an Overland Park industrial design student in the Department of Design, is the recipient of a $4,000 scholarship. Guinn is working in partnership with the School of Architecture, Design & Planning’s Center for Design Research to develop a SafeBeacon prototype. SafeBeacon is a call station for SafeRide and SafeBus users that increases the programs’ awareness, usability and convenience for students looking for a safe ride home.

“I have experienced the loss of a fellow KU design student, who tragically died while walking home from a party,” Guinn said. “I want to prevent further loss, and create a sense of safety for Jayhawks by increasing the awareness, usability and usage of the SafeRide and SafeBus System.”

Gregory Thomas, director of Center for Design Research and Guinn’s adviser, said, “Although his proposal emphasizes the safety aspects on campus, it is the inclusion of new technologies in the beacons and how they will interact with the transportation that will make it unique.”

All scholarship recipients will present their projects at the end of the spring 2016 semester.

This scholarship is funded by MV Transportation, the private transportation contracting firm that operates Lawrence Transit for the city under contract for Lawrence and KU on Wheels.

“For MV Transportation, this is a remarkable opportunity,” said Michael Sweeten, MV’s general manager responsible for managing the Lawrence Transit operation. “In addition to supporting KU scholarship, we gain the insight of bright minds with an academic focus on what we do. For us, KU on Wheels, and the Lawrence Transit System, we are all learning in the process, and it is a nice win all around.”

MV created the scholarship opportunity in 2014 to support student initiatives and to give students interested in pursuing careers in public transit more real-world experience in the industry.

“We are pleased to be working with a contractor who not only provides excellent service but who recognizes the importance of excellent scholarship in the academic setting,” said Danny Kaiser, associate director of KU Parking and Transit. “MV Transportation is setting the bar higher in its support of our campus community.”

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

(Photo credit: University of Kansas, source: MarComm.)