Commuting alternative by the Student Busing System Project
ANDREA ACOSTA | March 26, 2013 | THE PROSPECTOR
Student Busing System Project, in collaboration with Sun Metro,
aims to create an alternative for students who commute to
Aaron Montes / The Prospector
The new Student Busing System Project aims to provide students with the expansion of a tailored and more feasible commuting alternative, ultimately increasing the availability of public transportation. The project, created by a team of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering UTEP graduates and research assistants at The Research Institute of Manufacturing and Engineering Systems, could be completed by fall 2013.
"The objective of this project is to provide students with the necessary routes that they need in order to get to campus," said Mario Salomon IMSE graduate and SBSP research assistant. "Ultimately reducing the rate at which students use their cars to drive to school, which will create a healthier campus, that will have a reduction of carbon emissions radiated by UTEP."
According to a survey that was led by the SBSP team in fall 2012, 97 percent of UTEP students said that they would ride a service if a pick up point of their choice was provided to them.
The idea for the Student Busing System Project was born from the input of IMSE graduate student, Stefan Hempel, who completed an Energy Dashboard project sponsored by the Student Government Association Green Fund on May 2011.
"The Energy Dashboard project dealt with the provision of a visual graphing of electrical energy use in the library, helping initiate the smart sensing, monitoring and conservation of energy within our campus," said Eric Smith, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering assistant professor and principal investigator of the SBSP. "After some research, Hempel commented on the differences in transportation services, as tailored for students later taking the idea to the Green Fund, and was approved by SGA."
According to Salomon, SGA has been extremely helpful since the initiation of the SBS project, having it completely sponsored by the Green Fund.
"They have certainly helped us in contacting the right people for the right matters," Salomon said. "As soon as SGA heard of what the project focused on, they approached us and offered us their help, and we couldn't be more thankful."
UTEP students can expect to save money and have desirable pick up points, along with operating hours matching all students courses from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Salomon said.
"We are currently collaborating with Sun Metro and other officials to incorporate student-centered busing system improvements in the regional transportation plan," Salomon said. "It has been such a wonderful experience to work with them, especially because of their openness and receptiveness towards new, innovative and student-driven projects, such as ours."
According to Smith, it's satisfying to see that they are participating in an era of accelerating and environmentally positive improvements, after 30 years of relatively little change in the fossil fuel paradigm.
"Working with students, who are actually graduated engineers, on this student-funded project has illustrated the effectiveness of direct engagement and empowerment of the student stakeholder to transform a living environment," Smith said. "As a team we have discovered the multi-dimensional nature of engineering and self-sustaining transportation improvements."
SBSP has set the goal of creating a more commuter friendly campus, the implementation of different routes offered to students and the increase in attendance. Now students who were forced to drop out of school, due to the lack of transportation and parking spaces, will find a way to go back to school thanks to this busing system, Smith said.
According to Adytia Akundi, IMSE graduate student and SBSP research assistant, taking part in the project has been a very real work experience for her academic career.
"Without the help of Dr. Smith and the Green Fund, none of this ongoing investigation would of been possible," Akundi said. "Taking a project from a lab to real life is something that most students don't have the chance to do, and we were all lucky enough to experience and help the university with."
Andrea Acosta may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.