Industrial Design Studio Connects Bus Riders with Job Opportunities

Industrial Design Studio Connects Bus Riders with Job Opportunities

Mobile City Mayor’s Innovation Team was looking for a way to connect job opportunities with job seekers. While Mobile has a relatively high unemployment rate (7.7 percent), there are many jobs available (5,000 as of September 2015). Because a good percentage of the city’s population (10 percent) uses Mobile’s public transportation—the Wave Transit—daily, using the buses to connect jobs with people seemed like a good possibility. The Innovation Team Mobile came to Professor Shu-Wen Tzeng’s Fall 2015 Exhibit and Packaging studio seeking innovative solutions that would marry job opportunities with the city bus system. The project challenge put to the sixteen, third-year industrial design students: How do I use a bus to get a job?

“There were three main focuses of this project,” says Tzeng. “Project research and design opportunity identification, brand name and identity system creation, and service solutions. Each focus led to different design challenges while all of them provided students with chances to explore design ideas, examine design principles, evaluate design concepts and eventually learn how to implement their design solutions and make the solutions relevant and effective to the real-world situation.”

Students conducted on-the-ground research in Mobile, interviewing Wave Transit riders at the Clinton L. Johnson Center for Economic Development through Mobile Development Enterprises, as well as management representatives from Wave Transit, AIDT, Austal, and local small businesses to investigate both the needs of bus riders and those hiring and training in Mobile.

Their research and hard work resulted is six innovative and creative job service design solutions that include mechanical, audio and radio solutions as well as screen-based and app-based formats for delivering career and training information to interested bus riders. One of the design solutions uses geolocation technology to allow riders to find jobs or training available and accessible along bus routes.

All the design prototypes (including both hardware and software) were presented to the Mayor of Mobile City and were exhibited to the public at the LoDa ArtWalk on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile, Alabama in December 2015.

“Mass transit in Mobile is all about helping get our citizens to the places they want to go in life,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “This project shows the innovative ways we can use city services to build a stronger, more vibrant Mobile. I want to thank the Auburn University School of Industrial + Graphic Design for creating a way for us to think differently about the experiences of our citizens who ride public transportation. The talent, skill and professionalism of these students is evident in the work they submitted, and we are proud to display their work for the community to explore.”

The Mayor’s Innovation Team included Joan Dunlap (executive director) Jeff Carter, Dale Speetjens, Andrew Webber, and Jayson D’Alessandro (industrial designer) and is made possible by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The team recently presented the Auburn student work to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams. As Dunlap reports, “He is very passionate about workforce development and loved it!”

Related people:
Shu-Wen Tzeng