Aldine ISD students present bus shelter concept designs to Houston METRO.

A three-senior team from Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD created a winning design for a METRO bus shelter that will eventually be built in their area.

Eight teams from Aldine ISD presented bus shelter concept proposals to a board of judges on April 23, 2019, at METRO headquarters. The teams that made it to the presentation floor had been competing against hundreds of other students. Students worked on their initial proposals for nearly four months, and teachers and science specialists assisted in choosing the winning submissions.

The partnership between Aldine ISD and METRO began in October of 2018. Brad Kaplan, a digital learning specialist at Aldine ISD, pitched the idea to Tom Lambert, CEO of METRO.

“When I told Tom about the idea, he was immediately excited by the opportunity for both METRO and the students of Aldine. He saw the importance of giving students a real-world opportunity to develop a product that would be presented to a board of experts at METRO,” Kaplan said.

Student teams created proposals and submitted them for judging at the end of March. The eight winning teams represented three different Aldine high schools: Blanson, Eisenhower, and Nimitz.

Each team was assigned a presentation coach and spent many hours working to master their pitch. The presentation coaches were district digital learning specialists.

According to Akilah Willery, Aldine ISD executive director of Instructional Technology, the students not only created the designs, but they also taught themselves the means to create them.

“The presentation coach’s job was to help each team prepare their digital presentation and ensure they put their best foot forward. The students did all of the work. They taught themselves how to use 3D design software and created their design prototype on their own. This was truly a student-driven project,” Willery said.

Students arrived at METRO headquarters the morning of April 23rd excited and nervous. Roberto Treviño, Executive Vice President, for Planning, Engineering, and Construction, welcomed the teams. Each team gave a 4-6 minute digital presentation and answered questions posed by the board of judges. Each team also provided the judges with a 3D printed model of their design.

“What you are about to do is real-world. We are excited about what we are about to see,” Treviño said.

The panel included (from left to right) Mustaque Rumi, program manager II Engineering & Capital Projects; Brandie Locket, urban designer; Jackie Gil, media specialist; Michael Martinez, director of Community Engagement; and Treviño. Based on the feedback from the judges, choosing a winner was very difficult.

“All of the designs were amazing. Choosing a winner was difficult. All of the teams were well spoken. We could tell the teams worked hard on their project and presentation,” Treviño said.

Even though all of the projects were well-received, that team was from Eisenhower High School won the event.

“The curved back panel was the element that took this design over the top,” Locket said.

The three seniors who made up the Eisenhower High School team were Hector Baltazar, Sergio Garcia, and Eliezer Guillen. The team invested many hours on their project with the guidance of their science teacher, Remelia Arpino.

“We are going to build the shelter that the winning team has proposed. We will include elements from each of the shelter ideas because they were all great. It was tough to choose a single winner,” Treviño said.

The judges initially asked if there could be more than one winner, but Nguyen Bui, executive director of Technology Innovation at Aldine, said the competition should only have one.

“In the real world, only one design would be accepted, and this is like the real world,” Bui said.

Tom Lambert, President and CEO of METRO was on hand at the district day of design to announce the winner of the contest. Lambert said he was thoroughly impressed with the student’s design and was excited to be on hand to announce the winner at the event. “We intend to build the shelter designed by the winning team in the Eisenhower area. We are also planning to build a shelter that incorporates elements of each of the shelters that were presente” Lambert said on Saturday when he announced the winner.

Eisenhower High School Principal Todd Lindeman was very excited for the students and the community. The bus shelter the students designed will be built in the Eisenhower area, where students involved in its creation will be able to see it and enjoy all of the benefits provided by the new shelter.

This project went so well, that Aldine and Metro have already started talking about next year’s project.