Project Examples

Nominal Problem – what material can be put down to reduce alleyway maintenance?

Course: 14.310- Engineering Materials
Semester: Fall 2006
Instructor: Krishna Vedula
Partner:Lawrence Community Works (LCW) and Groundwork Lawrence (GL)

Brief Description:

Compacted soil for hundreds of years, most with a grade, the Lawrence alleyways run between buildings and/or fences, about and between property owners and have cement or asphalt at either end. Groups of students were asked to select an alleyway from the priorities set by LCW and GL. They visited the site, researched appropriate materials and wrote up their recommendations in a report.

Full Description:

Lawrence Community Works with Groundwork Lawrence in Lawrence, MA have been working on solutions for alleyways owned by an absentee landlord. Some alleys are a trash-ridden where constant dumping occurs and some have a history of drug-related activity. The residents of the neighborhood decided to clean the alleys and find reuses for them. Some alleyways have been converted to green space with flower gardens, butterfly gardens and stone benches for the residents to use. However, ongoing maintenance has been an issue, with rains sweeping mulch away and clogging sewer drains, etc. Faculty toured the area and parts of the City at a walk and talk meeting with LCW and GL leadership. Representatives from LCW and GL came to class and presented a slideshow with discussion to introduce the problem to students early in the semester. After the project, copies of the student reports were delivered to both agencies, which they reviewed and found to be disappointing.

Compacted soil for hundreds of years, most with a grade, the Lawrence alleyways run between buildings and/or fences, about and between property owners and have cement or asphalt at either end. Groups of students were asked to select an alleyway from the priorities set by LCW and GL. They visited the site, researched appropriate materials and wrote up their recommendations in a report. Unfortunately, this project was changed to being for extra credit only. Therefore, some students sought their alleyway assignments the day before the project was due and thus did a poor job.