In January of 2020, four University of Wisconsin-Platteville engineering students partnered with the City of Cuba City to enhance the Presidential Plaza. This spring, the City of Cuba City received the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Main Street Program Award for its downtown innovation. The senior design team featured 2020 civil engineering graduates Chris Moore, team project manager, Dustin Reynolds, Kyle Samann and Ryan Schuppie.
“It’s a great honor, especially with the last year because half-way through the semester the pandemic hit and everything went remote,” said Moore, a civil engineer at SRF Consulting Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Bob Jones [Cuba City Economic Development Director] was our client. We worked with him a lot. We got it done and we got the award. It shows how all the hard work paid off in that semester.”
“It was a most challenging period to undertake such a project, with the pandemic and the resulting limitations on in-person communications,” added Jones. “The team was able to pivot and overcome that very well. We then shifted gears again when we identified the AARP Community Challenge Grant as a source for funding the project. We were one of the 184 awardees of the more than 2,800 applications for the grant. The team overcame all of these challenges and worked efficiently within a short time frame.”
Although, the pandemic altered the team’s plan to engage in town hall meetings, the group adjusted and discussed their ideas with city leaders and the public through phone and Zoom calls. The team was tasked to create a community space around the city’s Presidential Caboose.
“The longest part of the design process was doing the research,” said Moore. “What kind of events would they like in Cuba City, what features should the plaza have, researching other plazas in rural areas and getting feedback. We sent out surveys to high schoolers, older demographics and working adults. We collected the data and tried to find the best plaza possible.”
The team decided on a design that created a lot of openness and green space where community members could gather and socialize.
“We wanted to make it so people in Cuba City would want to stop and hang out there,” said Moore. “We wanted to revitalize the downtown and attract outside visitors.”
Moore credits the senior design project with preparing him for his professional career and learning how to conduct business remotely. He also hopes Cuba City residents are enjoying the Presidential Plaza renovations.
“It was definitely a great experience to get that taste of design and to see a project from start to finish. I’m so honored our team was able to do this,” said Moore. “Everyone in Cuba City was wonderful to us.”