Driveway by design

Aug 5, 2004

Three Kettering students make their mark on curb service.

It was an idea born in Communication 101. Three Kettering students researched and presented an idea to better serve the campus community. The notion is reality now and has changed a little bit of Flint real estate.

Students Jeff DeWitt, Josh Nelson and Tim Roelens needed to research and create a presentation for Lecturer Gary Erwin's Communication 101 class. After their first two ideas stumbled, the students focused on a problem in Kettering's Parking Lot #1, which is a raised parking area behind the Academic Building with space for around 60 vehicles.

"I park there everyday," said DeWitt, a sophomore from Davison, who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering - Manufacturing. "I was having problems parking one day and the project idea just went from there."

The students proposed that a new driveway be added on the Chevrolet Avenue side of Lot #1. That parking area has had only one outlet - onto Dupont Street -- for decades.

So the students pursued the idea with Pat Engle, Kettering's director of Physical Plant. "I asked them to go to the city and research the idea," Engle said. "When students have ideas like this, I ask them to invest some time and investigation in it. It makes it more real to them and is a better teaching tool." And Engle gave them a little "carrot" for their efforts -- Parking Lot #1 was scheduled to be redone, anyway.

Off to the city of Flint the students went. They learned that city officials had denied a request for a driveway onto Chevrolet Avenue years ago, back when traffic flowed heavy to the factories called "Chevy in the Hole." Those factories are long gone now, with most traffic on Chevrolet Avenue related to Kettering or the neighborhood.

With that knowledge in hand, the students proposed a curb cut on Chevrolet and the addition of a driveway. Plans were drawn and the students presented their final design in their Communication 101 class. Erwin, the instructor, invited Engle to view the end product during the end-of-term presentations.

"I think it's great that students want to find a way to better the campus," Engle said. "I was thrilled that I could combine their idea with the ongoing project to replace the parking lot in Lot #1. I credit the instructor, Gary Erwin, with letting the students dream, but keeping their feet on the ground."

The $110,000 construction and asphalt project has been underway this spring and will soon provide 56 renovated parking spaces for the convenience of the Kettering community. Users will enter on Dupont Street and exit on Chevrolet Avenue. The parking lot is scheduled to reopen in early August.

"I like knowing our idea went through," said Roelens, a sophomore from Port Huron, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

"It was just a good idea that came through," added Nelson, a freshman from St. Joe majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

"It feels like you made an impression at a University," DeWitt added, joking, "maybe they should give us a plaque!"

Written by Patricia Mroczek
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