Grasping the People Mover Challenge

Second year automotive and transport students undertaking the ‘People Mover’ project accompanied by Elaine Mackie, second year tutor, were given an opportunity to present their initial design proposals to the client, Birmingham Airport’s Michelle Thurgood, Transport Specialist.

‘People Mover’ students in front of Diamond House, Birmingham Airport

Students were tasked with delivering a short presentation describing their concepts to date in terms of addressing the challenge to design a new dedicated People Mover linking the HS2 Birmingham Interchange Station with the Airport site with either one or two additional stops to serve the current Birmingham International Station and the National Exhibition Centre complex.

‘People Mover’ presentations in full flow

Michelle remarked that: “I am positive that in that room there is the beginning of the perfect people mover to cater for every type of customer.”

And elaborated that: “The persona analysis enabled all the students to really get into the shoes of their imaginary users – whether it was the business person wanting to have a few minutes relaxing between locations, the parent and child needing to be entertained, the international traveller needing clear instructions and plenty of luggage space, or the person who was mobility impaired and wanted to fit in.”

Michelle seemed equally impressed with what the vehicle should look like too: “The ‘simple’ idea of what it should look like inside and out included modern, military, organic, historic and even bamboo inspired. It was truly inspirational to see where the ideas had sparked from. One of the major wake up points was how one student had considered the airport lounges and airline trims from across the world. Not because they looked good, but because they had been developed to ensure customers were relaxed and secure during their journey.”

In summary she concluded that: “Not one of the students had avoided the difficult questions, instead had tackled it head on. They were inspired and showed remarkable confidence and understanding. Not one student did the same thing. I am looking forward to seeing how the students take their feedback and adapt their ideas for their final designs…”

One example of sketch ideas for ‘People Mover’

In terms of the students’ experience, comments ranged from: “Being able to present our concepts to a representative from Birmingham Airport and to hear her comments for the first time was a major milestone in the project. It was very encouraging to see how receptive the client is towards our initial proposals and how open they are to innovation and radical designs . . . . knowing that they share the concerns I have identified in my preliminary research was useful in making sure my design process was on the right trajectory, and speaking to them gave me a clearer picture of the Airport’s goals with the design.”

to: “The ‘presentation experience’ was a great way to get some feedback on some of my interior and exterior concepts for the people mover, as well as the systems design (eg. the app). Michelle also pointed out some problems which passengers face with the current system based on our personas (e.g. overcrowding while boarding, passengers with various disabilities needing assistance etc.), which have inspired ideas for solutions to these problems in my future concepts. After the visit, I understand the whole people mover system as in greater depth, and the scale of a project like this, outside of the design studio. Overall, the experience of presenting a design project to a real client was a great way to grow to a higher level of design maturity.”

and: “… being put in that position and presenting in front of our guest that my confidence in presenting my designs has grown considerably. I also found her feedback very useful in deciding where to go with my next developed concept.”



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