Introducing Campus Challenge

Campus Challenge@HKUST is a series of competitions organized by Office of the Dean of Students (DSTO). Students are encouraged to contribute innovative ideas to resolve existing challenges at HKUST which are closely related to students’ campus life. In addition of being a competition, it is also a channel for students to express their thoughts and contribute to the constant improvement of the campus.

 

In April 2018, Campus Challenge on Transportation was successfully held and received popular response. Around 80 proposals were collected and displayed at Academic Concourse. Outstanding ideas include hiking, promoting ride-sharing programs, building cable cars, etc. Staff and students casted around 1200 votes in total. After voting and selection from senior management of the University, 6 prizes were given to 5 proposals.

Dickson is one of the winners of the "Campus Challenge - Transportation”

Our teammates were researching the current transportation methods in HKUST.

Staffs were also joining the vote of Campus Challenge@HKUST.

Participating in Campus Challenge@HKUST

When we first saw the poster of Campus Challenge@HKUST, we felt so excited that we got a chance to change the campus life. Campus affairs were supposed to be planned by school offices but HKUST started to collect suggestions from students, who were the major group to be affected by school’s policies. It was interesting to allow students to participate in decision-making, and it motivated us and our friends to join.

HKUST is far away from the urban area. The common ways to go to school are by minibus, bus and shuttle bus. The limited number of transportation alternatives led to many people queuing at bus stops during peak hours. It was so tired to stand for an hour after having lessons. Hence, it became apparent to us that there was dire need for other transportation options.

We first did research on the current transportation methods to/from HKUST to understand the situation more thoroughly. We analyzed the data collected to find out the imbalance between demand and supply which was helpful for us to come up with viable solutions. We identified that one of the primary causes was the fact that there was not enough public transportation and shuttle bus shifts during peak hours. Therefore, we should focus on solving the above problems. Two approaches were presented, to increase the availability of transportation or to reduce the traffic during peak hours. Our team suggested a ride-sharing campaign to be a promising alternative and we submitted our proposal. We felt so nervous to see our poster being printed out and displayed in the roadshow because we couldn’t predict what kind of feedback we would receive from schoolmates. Luckily, people were more interested in the creativity of different proposals rather than being judgmental. Therefore, we were very grateful to be part of the first Campus Challenge.

Working in Challengers’ Club

We were so lucky to be selected as the organizing committee of Challengers’ Club. Challengers’ Club is a task force to implement proposals received from Campus Challenge. The University wanted to select some feasible ideas and try them out. We got a chance to screen through all the proposals carefully. Most of them can be categorized into two directions such as refining current transportation options and utilizing other transportation methods to commute to/from HKUST. Some interesting ideas include building cable cars, setting up ferry routes or even firing rockets in HKUST! It showed that students cared a lot about school affairs and wanted to improve the current situation. However, we could only pick a few practical proposals. The first step was to select proposals basing on creativity and feasibility. Some proposals were too complicated to be carried out at the moment because they involve using advanced technology, a considerable number of stakeholders or concerns over economic efficiency. These obstacles could not be resolved easily right now. After repeated and in-depth discussions, we picked out hiking, ride-sharing campaign, shuttle bus seat reservation system and real-time checking system to be implemented.

After the selection process, further analysis was needed to put together more comprehensive action plans. We went through details mentioned in proposals as some of them needed to be discussed with school offices or seek technical advice from professionals. We listed out all items under discussion and held a meeting with Campus Service Office (CSO) to figure out the possibility of implementing the above plans on campus and seek advice on modifying the proposals. We hope to have further cooperation with CSO in the future.

Instead of sitting in our office, we decided to execute one of the proposed ideas in Campus Challenge and successfully co-organized a hiking trial with Sports Development Team of Student Affairs Office. There was a hiking trail connecting HKUST and Po Lam which was unknown among most of us. The trail was well-maintained and comfortable to walk on. We believed that it would be fairly easy for the majority of people to finish the whole path. Although it might not be the most effective way to relieve the transportation problem, it could be a possible alternative and leisure activity for staff and students. Therefore, we planned to promote the hiking experience with detailed guidelines provided.

Some of proposals required longer time for preparation, such as ride-sharing, shuttle bus seat reservation system and real-time queue checking system. These proposals involved prior investigation and system development which were relatively time-consuming. The timeline for implementing these plans were uncertain but the majority of preparation would be carried out in the summer.

We were hiking with Staff from Sports Development Team of Student Affairs Office.

Learning from experiences

During the work in Challenger’s Club, we both experienced the whole process of idea formation to implementation. When we join the Campus Challenge competition, we just drafted a brief idea with our teammates and submit it to the office without considering much. However, when we came to the position of turning it into reality, it required a lot of planning, negotiations and site visits. For example, we had to discuss the problems incurred in the proposals with other stakeholders and try to come up with solutions. I believe that these skills would be very useful in various aspects of life. It was a challenging task for me because it was our first time to implement proposed ideas in such large extent, not to mention it involved the welfare of the entire campus. Fortunately, we got a lot of help from our supervisors and colleagues which made it all easier.

We are glad to see that students had the courage and passion to voice out their opinion in Campus Challenge. We hope that the University can establish more channels of interaction with HKUST members and construct a better and more collaborative campus in the future.