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CoLab project helps university community ‘Navigate VCU’ during bike race

CoLab project helps university community ‘Navigate VCU’ during bike race

As Adam Crowe, director of emergency preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University, began to consider the potential impact of the UCI Road World Championships, he quickly identified the need for a highly interactive and engaging mobile mapping site that would allow the VCU community to continue day-to-day functions with minimum interruption.

Rather than looking to an outside company for help, Crowe and his team turned to CoLab, VCU School of the Arts’ transdisciplinary internship program.

Greg Hofbauer (left) and Daniel Torraca explore the Navigate VCU site prepared for the UCI Road World Championships.
Greg Hofbauer (left) and Daniel Torraca explore the Navigate VCU site prepared for the UCI Road World Championships.

“We contacted CoLab and were greeted by Matt Woolman and Andrew Ilnicki with eagerness and enthusiasm about the possible partnership between CoLab and the VCU bike race planning process,” Crowe said. “With the addition of Greg Hofbauer, adjunct instructor and CEO of Nimblepitch … the project surged forward with the purpose of creating a VCU-centric map for the bike race that would provide dynamic information to students, faculty and staff.”  

After more than a year of development, Navigate VCU launched the week leading to the opening ceremony. A group of about six students worked on the project through the CoLab internship.

It is critical for students to have the experience of working with stakeholders and be accountable to that in a real-life scenario.

More than a traditional internship, CoLab offers deep investigations into innovative problem-solving, with an emphasis on the development and use of emerging technologies. For Daniel Torraca, who will receive his degree in communication arts with a focus in illustration and comics in December, the experience of working with CoLab and Hofbauer was “nothing short of incredible.” Through this project, Torraca gained experience in design, building and working within a website, formatting, and data entry. His newfound interest in Web design and coding prompted him to enroll in Ilnicki’s CompThink intro to coding class.

“I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a group of people that value professionalism and a healthy work environment fostered by encouragement and through communication,” Torraca said. “All of the faculty and university spaces have been accommodating, understanding and extremely professional in the creation of this project. [Hofbauer]’s attention and overall commitment to not only the project itself but to the growth and development of me as a young professional has been one of the best experiences I have had here at VCU.”

The unique program’s dedication to students is what draws talented professionals such as Hofbauer to CoLab.

“It is critical for students to have the experience of working with stakeholders and be accountable to that in a real-life scenario. Internships check that box, but to be able to combine a classroom-based series of learning with a real-world component that makes students prove themselves … it’s been exciting to watch these students do this.”

Find Navigate VCU at http://vcu.hostrva.com/.

 

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