Student participants from the most recent INNOVATE-O-thon recently shared their experiences and thoughts on the future of smart mobility in Ohio to a packed ballroom of government representatives and community members.
DriveOhio, an initiative working to advance smart mobility in Ohio, invited the students to the DriveOhio Alliance quarterly meeting at the Fawcett Center after their involvement in an Institute for Materials Research-led INNOVATE-O-thon event in November.
At the three-day innovation event, students were challenged to imagine a future with self-driving shuttles on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University and build value propositions for projects of that scope.
Their ideas will help shape the technology strategy of DriveOhio as it works to advance smart mobility in the state.
Josiah Campbell and Evan Luikart were teammates at INNOVATE-O-thon. Their group focused on how autonomous shuttles might improve safety for late-night travelers in the campus area.
“I enjoyed INNOVATE-O-thon so much, and I learned a lot from it. I wanted to come here and tell people about it and how I felt about it,” said Luikart said, a mechanical engineering freshman at Ohio State. “Also, I thought this was a great networking opportunity to meet people and see what else is going on with DriveOhio.”
Not all of the students were from Ohio State. Collaborators joined from Central Ohio Technical College, Columbus State Community College and Marion Technical College through the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops program and its central Ohio coordinator, the university’s Ohio Manufacturing Institute.
Campbell, a 17-year-old who plans to pursue a mechanical engineering degree, said he jumped at the chance to participate at the INNOVATE-O-thon with DriveOhio after one his professors at Central Ohio Technical College suggested it to him.
“This is something I really enjoy doing and what I could see myself doing as a career,” Campbell said. “I wanted to share what we had been doing over the weekend we were together, and see how it could be implemented in real life.”
Jen Schlegel, a Biomedical Engineer major at Ohio State, said she accepted the invitation to speak because she wanted to share her passion about improving mobility and access for those who are disabled.
“I spend more hours in my day in transportation than I do any other activity,” she said. “Being able to have an opportunity to share that experience with a group of people that are interested in having that conversation about what transportation looks like in the future for all populations, especially my own personal disabled population, is really something that I care about. So when I had the opportunity, I said, ‘Definitely, of course I’ll go.’”
Rich Granger, DriveOhio’s Managing Director of Workforce Development, said each student team brought impressive perspectives and insights to the use case development process at INNOVATE-O-thon.
“These events give students exposure to working with not just external partners, whether they’re from industry or government, but partners who are engaged and eager to connect with our undergraduates,” said Jay Sayre, Director of Innovation at IMR.
Students’ work was guided by representatives from IMR, DriveOhio, Smart Columbus, Ohio State’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Fisher College of Business, and the university’s Corporate Engagement Office. The event was sponsored by DriveOhio, the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences.