Howard University Students Design Future Public Transportation

By Dora Smith

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Meet Nicolas Hunter, Atiba Brereton and Matthew Clarke – three very bright future engineers at Howard University. I first met the trio at the PACE Annual Forum in late July where they won first place in the 2013 Collaboration and Innovation Challenge (CIC). Their project was an “Integrated Transportation System for Future 21st Century Washington, D.C.”.

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The CIC showcases new ideas and mobility projects created by faculty and students of PACE Institutions. These student engineers, as members of the Howard University collaborative team undertook the challenges of designing a more effective public transportation system for Washington D.C. and its environs. In 2012, the city was ranked highest in the U.S. for commuter delays, excess fuel and congestion emissions. Through its research, the team sought to identify solutions that would not only reduce traffic and congestion and increase public transportation use, but also reduce carbon emissions.

When I was in D.C. in September I noticed the Capital Bikeshare Program.
The team’s multi-pronged solution included the expansion of this program to include pod cars along with an accompanying dispensation system.

Here is the full presentation with some highlights below.
[slideshare id=27580024&doc=pacecic-forumpresentation-131025161956-phpapp01]

The pod car design is compact enough to allow six of them to fit in a standard parking space. It was designed to be a plug-in electric capable of a top speed of 35 miles per hour.
howard pod

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The design for the autonomous pod dispensation system incorporates an enclosed pod car storage area with a kiosk for customer pick-up, which may look like this:

howard cic pods dispensation system

Additional designs included a parking space converted into a dispensation system:
howard cic dispensation system
The CIC, as with all PACE projects, challenges future engineers to collaborate with industrial design and prove out their engineering concepts. The Howard team performed simple analyses to gauge the structural integrity of components of the pod dispensation system. Here is an image of one such component, courtesy of NX Nastran.
NX Nastran student design
I should note that for these students, this was an extracurricular project. Atiba was completing his master’s in engineering. Nicholas and Matthew had completed their freshman year in mechanical engineering.

In addition to winning PACE’s CIC competition this summer, these student engineers also mentored younger students from the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science (MS)² during their Summer Enrichment Program.

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I hope this has given you sufficient inspiration for your extracurricular projects this semester!

Learn more about PACE on their website. Stay tuned here for more updates on PACE projects.

– Dora

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at