By Kyle McMullen
Over the past year I have had the privilege of being able to work on the Gatlinburg Glades Greenway project as my CEE Senior Design project alongside Corey Baldwin, Nicholas Malone, Rebekah Kish, and Rebecca Bennett. This project has enabled us to learn many areas of design that we have not yet learned in the classroom but will need once we enter the workforce.
One of the most challenging parts of this project was being able to develop a design that meets our clients’ ideas while not exceeding a budget. Our team was able to achieve an appropriate design with much research and help from CEE faculty and technical mentors. One of the keys to success for our team was being able to work independently and trust that each of us will do our assigned tasks. The CEE department makes teamwork very easy by providing us with a dedicated work space that contains any and all programs, printers, and resources that we needed for our project.
The Senior Design class is unique because it is the first class that deviates from the typical cycle of lecture, homework, study, and test. We are given submission deadlines and criteria for submittals, but ultimately it is up to us to meet and determine the work that needs to be performed. This class has required me to step outside of my comfort zone and engage with clients, mentors, professors, and city officials via email, phone, and in-person meetings. One of the most important things I have learned from this class is being able to plan and lead meetings and presentations.
The unique aspect of Senior Design projects is that they are service oriented. In our case, we provided our clients, Mike and Molly Hicks, the engineering services needed to fully construct a greenway for the Gatlinburg community. Without our teams’ services, it is likely that the greenway would not ever be built due to budget constraints. Knowing that the work we are doing on the project here in Knoxville is greatly benefiting the Gatlinburg community is very satisfying. Our team feels as though we have been able to use our engineering knowledge to not only help out other communities, but also represent UT well.
Here are what some of the other team members had to say about the project:
“My favorite part about the project was being able to communicate with the people that will be positively affected by our work. I enjoyed gathering information from the city planner, parks and rec manager, technical mentor, our client, and the community. We are pleased that we were able to design the greenway to create what people imagine for this community” – Corey Baldwin
“I think the best part of the greenway project was that it wasn’t just a homework problem, it was real. We had the opportunity to create and develop something that our clients had dreamed up. It was really great getting to hand over our work to them in the end” – Rebekah Kish
“This project was different because we were able to take what we had learned in school and apply it to a real life greenway plan for the community. It felt good to able to use our skills and knowledge to impact the people of Gatlinburg and help them further their greenway plans for the city.” – Rebecca Bennett