A bee collects pollen from a flower August 11, 2017 in the south campus Stewardship Garden.

Sheneeta White and Tim Meyer Earn Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Awards

The Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) has awarded Sheneeta White, Operations and Supply Chain Management, and Tim Meyer, Computer and Information Sciences, the 2018 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for their work integrating a collaborative Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) project with Metro Transit into their courses, Service Operations Management (OPMT 360) and Systems Analysis and Design II (CISC 321).

This award, given every year, recognizes St. Thomas faculty for innovation and excellence in integrating sustainability into a course.

Both White and Meyer’s courses engaged students to solve a sustainability problem identified by their government partner, Metro Transit. One of Metro Transit’s project goals is to develop a tracking system for its non-revenue fleet vehicles.

That’s where White’s Service Operations Management (OPMT 360) and Meyer’s Systems Analysis and Design II (CISC 321) courses come in. They took on the challenge of developing a fleet vehicle tracking system that meets the needs for record management while minimizing the amount of work and resources needed for implementation. Students in OPMT 360 developed standard operating procedures for tracking fleet vehicles to meet audit requirements.  They developed procedures that could be translated into an app, with an eye to minimizing cost and maximizing user-friendliness.

A great example of interdisciplinary collaboration, OPMT 360 students provided their procedures to CISC 321 students, who then worked to develop them into an app. Subsequent usability testing of the app by students from OPMT 360 and Metro Transit partners has provided feedback for improvement.

For Operations Management major Michelle Wise ’19, the project helped her deepen her skills in business process mapping and decision analysis.

“Because this was a real life problem my group was able to work through multiple possible solutions then choose the most practical solution," she said. "By working with Metro Transit we were able to figure out what would be the most efficient, affordable, and hopefully fail-proof solution.”

For Metro Transit partner Kelly Morrell, Commuter Programs Specialist, the “research and work put in by the students on this project is of immense value to Metro Transit. As a public entity, we have limited resources and often find it difficult to invest heavily in improvements that are not customer-facing. The students and faculty have helped us bridge that resource gap in an innovative way. The results of this project will help Metro Transit operate more efficiently, reducing unnecessary paper use and allowing us to make more informed decisions about our non-revenue fleet.”

This work with Metro Transit is part of an ongoing partnership with SCP to integrate projects into St. Thomas courses across disciplines that advance Metro Transit’s sustainability goals and engage students in real-world, applied problem-solving.

Previous Curricular Innovation in Sustainability awardees include Drs. Dalma Martinovic in 2013, Tim Scully in 2014, Debra Petersen in 2015, Todd Lawrence in 2016, and Monica Hartman and Matt Kim in 2017. Please visit the OSI website to learn more about this award.