Students, faculty, staff, visitors and neighbors vie for parking spots on and near urban campuses everywhere.
At Washington University in St. Louis, teams of Olin Business School students have tackled the parking dilemma with an eye on the environment as part of the first Olin Sustainability Case Competition (OSCC).
Over 100 students entered the competition, representing every level of study at the business school from undergraduate BSBA to Executive MBA students.
One finalist proposed an automated parking facility with robotic valets that would decrease carbon emissions, save energy and increase safety. Bike-sharing systems and an increase in the existing WeCar sharing program were also featured in many of the sustainability plans.
From an original field of 30 teams, four advanced to the final round. Armed with power point presentations and hours of research and analysis, the teams took turns on stage to “sell” their proposals to a panel of judges.
The top prize went to the team that targeted a specific segment of the university population – graduate students in nearby university housing – as the most likely to use public transportation and bicycles if services and pathways were improved. They argued that grad students were most likely to make the behavioral changes necessary to reduce the number of cars on campus when given proper incentives. They posited, if successful, this group could be a role model for other constituencies on campus to follow.
The judges said the winning team’s survey of students about transportation choices led them to feasible solutions and compelling results. The winning team with four MBA students received a $5000 cash prize, free WeCar hours, and an opportunity to present their recommendations to university administrators, including Chancellor Mark Wrighton.