Exploring local solutions for local issues
How can the city attract and retain high-quality talent? Or how can traffic congestion and mobility issues be improved in downtown Stratford?
Those were the questions 100 students tried to solve Saturday during this year’s uXperience Design Camp.
Already in its third edition, the event was organized by the Accelerator Centre in conjunction with the local campus of the University of Waterloo and the City of Stratford.
As part of the 12-hour-long event, students from a wide range of disciplines, such as software development, engineering, design and computer science, were divided into groups and asked to find viable, tangible solutions to these two real-life issues the city is actually trying to address as part of its Smart City initiative.
Students also received assistance from a number of mentors, who provided their expertise to help the teams develop their projects. Among those were Naeem Khan, manager of information technologies for the city, and Joani Gerber, CEO of invest-Stratford.
Chase Denomme, manager at the Accelerator Centre and who was leading the camp, said the event was a win-win opportunity for both students and the city.
“One of the main goals of this event is to give students some applied, real-world experience,” he said. “A lot of the stuff they may work on in school may be problems that may not actually exist.
“And the city obviously has challenges they want to address and there’s a huge pool of creative talent here at the university that they can leverage to solve some of those issues.
The ideal outcome of today will be that the city can get a bunch of solutions they can potentially implement.”
To that end, the program included a panel of judges who reviewed and evaluated the proposals.
One of the groups, for instance, envisioned an autonomous shuttle bus that would take tourist around the main points of interests around the city.
“One of the main issues in the city when it comes to mobility comes from tourists, who come to the city and drive around going to all these places. This doubles the number of people and vehicle around the downtown core,” said Ryan Carruthers, who is from Stratford and is part of the school’s global business and digital arts program. “This way, we could get tourists to park in one place and still being able to go to all of these places.”
Some of the students proposed the idea of controlling the traffic flow in the city by modifying the scheduling of traffic lights during peak times, while others explored the idea of creating a community hub that would house both companies and entrepreneurial students to facilitate the interaction between both.
But when asked whether 12 hours was enough time for students to truly develop feasible solutions to these issues, Denomme didn’t hesitate for a second, saying this approach was actually one of the most efficient ways to do it.
“A lot of times, when people are working on new ideas, if you have the time, you will take it,” he said. “People often take way longer than they need to come up with solutions, and the idea of a design sprint is to get something out into the market really quickly and that you can test before you invest too much time or resources.” email@example.com Twitter.com/JuhaJonathan
Ryan Carruthers, a student at the University of Waterloo Stratford campus, works on a project during this year’s uXperience Camp Design to find solutions to Stratford’s mobility and traffic issues.