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UT Business, Engineering Students Developing Interactive Bus Kiosks

Students visit Local Motors.

Students visit Local Motors.


Nineteen sophomores in UT’s Integrated Business and Engineering Program are ramping up their efforts on a project with real-world impact: a ticketing kiosk and bus stop for Olli, the driverless bus being produced by Local Motors.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced in April that Olli will be used by the city, giving students added motivation to see their designs carried out. Plans are for it to be utilized around conventions and other high-turnout events, with initial rollout and testing to be done around Chilhowee Park.

“We’ve teamed with Local Motors as a way for our students to get experience working with a highly innovative company on a project with public impact,” said Mary Brow, IBEP director. “The company presented us with a set of requirements that had to be met, and our student teams have come up with some additional ideas for add-ons that have found a place in the design process.”

Among the requirements laid out for the designs were that the kiosks and bus stop must:

  • Weigh less than 500 pounds
  • Be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Meet codes and regulations
  • Have interactive LED screens with common apps such as Google
  • Have lights and cameras for security

Students have also suggested charging ports, Wi-Fi, solar panels for power, and seating for customers.

The project culminated Tuesday, November 28, when Local Motors officials visited UT to hear the teams make their presentations and select the winning design.

UT launched IBEP to have select students from both the Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering gain experience and education about all aspects of an industry. Beginning in their sophomore year, students take five classes together and complete a joint business and engineering capstone project to earn a concentration with their degree.

The goal is to have 60 students–20 of each class rank from sophomore through senior–in the next two years.

The class featuring the Local Motors project, Problem Solving in Organizations and System Thinking, includes an introduction to the basics of industrial systems, guest lectures from industry leaders, and sessions devoted to critical thinking and finding solutions to production.

Led by Heath Fellow, Professor, and Director of the Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education Rupy Sawhney and Professor of Practice and Engineering Entrepreneurship Director Lee Martin, the course included the semester-long project as a way to test students’ knowledge and their ability to work together and to collaborate with others outside their group.

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