Walking into the Clemente Center on April 6 right at noon, I saw a lot of people at what was called the KEEN Engineering Challenge. Almost every Wednesday at noon, students can come in groups or alone to participate in these challenges, but usually they compete in teams of three. The teams are told what the challenge is, complete the challenge, and are judged within the course of an hour.
Each challenge is sponsored by KEEN Engineering. KEEN has partnered with 24 universities across the United States, including Florida Tech, to bring engineering and entrepreneurial thinking to students. Florida Tech has challenged students to come and challenge themselves into working in a team to create quick and simple solutions to everyday problems. The team that wins gets three $100 Visa Gift Cards.
April 6’s challenge focused on solving a campus problem, parking. Students were asked to brainstorm about the issues that students and faculty may experience when trying to park on campus. They were also asked to provide a solution and pitch their idea in 60 seconds.
Teams came up with a variety of issues that students or faculty can have daily: not knowing where the parking spots are on campus, the distance you have to travel from your parking spot and the time it takes to find a parking spot.
Each of the eight teams spent about 30 minutes to decide which issues they would address and to come up with a solution and a sales pitch. Some of the teams chose to go high-tech. These teams had ideas to add light and counters to each parking space, the rows of parking and the parking garages. This would provide those driving around the number of spots left so drivers know whether or not it’s worth the time to try to find a spot there. Additional ideas include an app so that you can look at the parking situation before you leave for class.
Other teams took the not so technical route to improve parking. These ideas included a flag system to mark which parking spots are in use and which are open. There were also ideas to add additional floors to the current parking garages to provide additional parking spaces.
The team that won this week’s challenge was Alyson Vezina, Ashley Vezina and Gary Homes Jr. who focused on the “Where’s Waldo?” of parking. They followed the high-tech approach and included the ability for parking spaces to be sponsored by companies that provided advertisements to go on the side of the parking count signs.
If you are looking to take part in a KEEN Engineering Challenge, then join us this fall!