By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer

Eight groups of UTC engineering students recently participated in Park(ing) Day, a nationwide event geared towards raising awareness about urban development and civic duty by converting metered parking spaces into usable public space.

engineering-2013-parking-day-06Started in 2005 with just a single installation in San Francisco (a layer of sod, a tree, and a park bench), the event has exploded in recent years to include more than 162 cities in more than 35 countries around the globe as an open-source, community-driven celebration.

The UTC students joined with more than 30 other groups in this year’s Chattanooga Park(ing) Day, which was organized by the River City Company for the first time.

Jesse Gainer, Jonathan Caine, and Raven Snyder helped design one park which featured a rainwater conversion model. The project showed how rainwater collected from roofs could be used to power a turbine. The power is then stored by a generator for later use.

“Even though this is only a small demonstration, it shows just how easy it is to create and use supplemental energy sources to help lessen our dependency on nuclear and fossil fuels,” said Gainer, a Senior Mechanical Engineer major

The project only cost $30 to build, and was constructed using scrap materials from the Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science (EMCS) Building, as well as spoons to make the turbine.

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Two of the UTC groups used their installations for human powered appliances. Austin Neely, Glenn Hurst, Mark Pitre, Josh Gould, and Ariel Aaron, constructed a bicycle that, when pedaled, powered an alternator. This power would then be converted into a wall socket which was used to charge pedestrians’ cell phones as well as a radio.

The other team used a similar solution to blend smoothies. As people walked by their park, set up in the median near the Majestic 12 Cinema, they could hop on the bike, pedal for a few minutes, and be rewarded with their own self-blended, fruit-filled, dessert. According to Sarah Burress, Park(ing) Day offered a great chance to show the potential of a city’s downtown area.

“The event really grew after the photo of the first installation in 2005 went viral, and it has been going on in Chattanooga for six years now. As the city grows, especially with redevelopment of Main Street, this gives UTC a great opportunity to demonstrate how limited space can be used to actively engage the community,” said Burress, a Senior Chemical Engineer major.

Ahmed Rehiem, Parth Patel, Sarah Highlander, Bilal Sheikh, and Jeremy Miller were also part of the “Smoothie Bike” group.

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Non-UTC installations featured swings, live music, street side art, and even cooking demonstrations.

For more information about Park(ing) Day, or to find out how to get involved next year, visit http://parkingday.org/

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