UI engineering students design art-integrating bus stop for rural Iowa students

Three engineering students are designing a bus stop for the town of Plymouth, Iowa. The artful bus stop will include heaters and device chargers.



A rendering of the new bus stop in Plymouth, Iowa is shown.

Lauren White, News Reporter

Grade-school children in one Iowa town will no longer wait for the school bus in severe weather without shelter with the help of a newly engineered, artful bus stop designed to keep kids warm and charge their phones. 

Two University of Iowa graduate students and one undergraduate are designing an artistic yet functional bus stop to serve grade-school children in the rural area of Plymouth, Iowa. 

Professor of Practice in the College of Engineering Richard Fosse said there is a lot to consider  engineering-wise with the design of the bus stop, because it needs to keep rain off students’ heads while also allowing for visibility. 

“The town of Plymouth, Iowa, came to us with this idea, and we knew we needed to do it because the children currently don’t have a bus stop, so they resort to waiting in nearby buildings,” Fosse said.

The project is funded by a $10,000 grant. Though the total cost of the project is more than $10,000, its team hopes to hire locally and find volunteers to keep building costs down, Fosse said.

Leslie Finer, director of Arts and Humanities for the Office of Outreach and Engagement, said in an email to The Daily Iowan that the university received the grant through Arts Build Communities. Art is integrated into the bus stop, she said, making this an art project just as much as an engineering project.

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“Most grants require that you have a specific project and a set budget. What’s nice about this one is that they just need to have an idea,” Finer said. “There is a six-month block of time dedicated to designing, and then they have a year to finish the project.” 

Graduate students Breanna Jensen and Jacob Preuschl will work alongside UI senior Alexandra Hval to design the bus stop. The students said they work well together because their different areas of expertise make the project run smoothly. 

Jensen said a special aspect of the project was how it asked Plymouth children what they most wanted to see integrated into the bus stop. While some of the children had wild suggestions, he said, many asked for very realistic additions. 

A primary suggestion was the ability of students charge their devices, so the bus stop will include solar panels to provide electricity. Along with charging their phones, the electricity provided will help to heat the bus stop in harsher weather conditions. 

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“A lot of factors go into design and construction, and things take time, but we hope to make the bus stop available to students in Plymouth by winter,” Jensen said. 

Although dimensions of the bus stop are still up in the air, Jensen said it will likely shelter 12 to 15 students simultaneously.

“I think it’s great that we were able to ask students from Plymouth what they wanted, because it makes the project much more personal,” Jensen said.