Design teams’ VandyVans app syncs with shelter at The Commons

(Vanderbilt University/Joe Howell)
(Vanderbilt University/Joe Howell)

Students can now follow their VandyVans route and van in real time at the new shelter located at the Hank Ingram stop near The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons.

The shelter was designed by undergraduates in the School of Engineering and partially funded through the Vanderbilt Green Fund, which provides seed funding for student ideas that improve the university’s sustainability goals, the shelter is the first fully recyclable, green and technology-driven shelter on campus.

“Bringing together student creativity, sustainability initiatives and administrative resources on this project will help us encourage students wanting to use VandyVans instead of driving a car,” said Andrea George, director of sustainability and environmental management. “With a reduction in car usage, we can make an impact on reducing fossil fuel use across campus, which is a major goal of the Vanderbilt Green Fund as well as the FutureVU vision.”

(Vanderbilt University)

The shelter syncs with an app, VandyVans DoubleMap, also created by engineering students. As students wait for their van, they can watch the vans in use in real time through the app or on the shelter’s technology display. The app can be downloaded through Apple or Google Play.

The initial app and shelter design projects began two years ago. “The primary driver of the effort was Lt. Jon-Michael McDaniel in the VU Public Safety office. The students corresponded with him,” said Ralph Bruce, professor of the practice of electrical engineering and the student team’s faculty adviser.

Ultimately, there was an extensive redesign of the shelter and the app, which was created by an earlier design team, Bruce said. The combined teams included electrical engineering students Christopher Dougan, Brelbi Golam, Haziq Razali and Jungwoon Yu; computer engineering students Tyren Herbst-Ingram, Quenton Stevenson and Anthony Lew; and mechanical engineering students Jordan Todd, Taylor Gutierrez and Raafeh Shahid.

“This shelter is really a hallmark of where Vanderbilt is going with transportation,” said Tracy Owens, director of parking services. “Creating a sustainable and technology-savvy transportation option for our students allows us to get one step closer to reaching our goal of improving mobility across campus while reducing our carbon footprint.”

In addition to the convenience of the app, the ADA-compliant shelter also offers WiFi, a blue light phone for direct access to Vanderbilt University Police Service dispatch, and BigBelly solar-powered trash compactor and recycling bins.

“We hope this shelter will drive feedback and metrics to begin planning and implementing updates to the other VandyVans stops,” Owens added. “We had over 110,000 rides last year, so we know students are using the system and want to better accommodate their needs while staying true to FutureVU principles.”

The shelters and stops will also uniquely identify with the school and part of campus they are located near.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314