Neal Wilkins Elementary looks to improve safety

March 31, 2003

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2003_03_31.jpgPLATTEVILLE - Keeping children safe at Neal Wilkins Elementary School was the key focus when Principal Al Eveland and Parent Teacher Association President Sharon Pink asked Assistant Dean of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle to assign one of her senior design teams to help.

Three students, each majoring in civil engineering and graduating in May, were chosen to complete the project. Sarah Church, a six-year senior from Lodi with an emphasis in transportation and construction engineering, Brian Johnson, a fifth-year senior from Milaca, Minn., with an emphasis in transportation engineering and a minor in mathematics, and Gina Perugini, a fifth-year senior from Wind Lake with an emphasis in construction and environmental engineering complete the team.

The purpose of the project is to increase the safety for parent traffic, bus traffic and students on foot and bicycle during the times before and after school when students are dropped off and picked up. Eveland and Pink also wanted parents and guardians of Neal Wilkins students to be aware of the situation and take extra caution with their children.

The role played by the senior design team is to redesign the configuration of the parking lot and the drop-off and pick-up zone. Currently, there is a one-way loop in front of the school that vehicles follow and children are often running through this traffic to reach the school.

The first step for the team was to evaluate the significance of the problem proposed by Eveland and Pink. In order to perform a thorough and precise evaluation the team has conducted extensive research on the area and the problem. As a team they have completed speed studies by clocking the speeds of the vehicles driving through the drop-off and pick-up zones, taken pedestrian counts to evaluate the number of individuals using the area and researched background information of the original design and layout of the parking lot, drop-off and pick-up areas.

As a result of the team's extensive studying and research, the UWP students have started to compile several different alternatives to solve the current problem. Their next steps involve meeting face-to-face with their clients Eveland and Pink along with Sergeant Michelle Hechel of the Platteville Police Department.

So far the team has run into little conflicts over the project but they feel that any possible challenges that arise may deal with parent cooperation to the outcomes of the project.

Church said that everyone has been very cooperative in making time to meet with the team and answering questions. The Neal Wilkins Elementary School representatives have made themselves available to meet and talk with the team along with the Platteville fire chief and members of the Platteville Police Department.

Perugini said the engineering firm that originally worked on the project (Bray Associates Architect) has also been very helpful by providing the team with a digital file of the layout of the area. This file can be opened on a computer program called Land Development so the students can analyze and alter the current design.

The project has provided the team with endless opportunities for hands-on learning. Johnson said the project has taught him to coordinate his time when working with a group and dividing up tasks. Other skills learned by the group include meeting deadlines, creating cost estimates, client interaction and more in-depth knowledge and experience using the Land Development computer program.

The team members feel their classes at UWP have prepared them well for this project. Their knowledge in conducting traffic studies, laying out a time plot of activities, estimating and analyzing costs and being aware of all resources have been extremely helpful in conducting and completing the project.

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