A team of UBC students placed first at the Wideman Prize for Project Management Excellence. They impressed the judges with their e-Bike Revolution campaign to encourage the use of electronic bicycles as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional transportation in Vancouver.
The Wideman Prize is an annual competition run by the Wideman Education Foundation, a non-profit that promotes the development of project leadership skills among young people. Participants are tasked to select, initiate, plan and execute a real project, to be judged by a panel of industry professionals. A total of ten teams from UBC, Simon Fraser University, and Langara College competed in this year's finals held on April 11, 2015.
Winners Raman Johal (BCom), Faraz Mehmood (BCom), Teresa Widjaja (BCom), and Alex Olajide (MSCP) saw an opportunity to improve local sustainable commuting through increased adoption of electronic bicycle technology. They observed that despite Vancouver’s dominant cycling culture, e-bike use is not as popular here and in other North American cities as it is in Europe and Asia, where in China alone there are 120 million e-bike users.
Olajide explains, “Electric-powered bicycles are ideal for use in Vancouver as they make cycling on our steep roads a comfortable experience. We were surprised by the limited market uptake of e-bikes, so we decided to launch our e-Bike Revolution awareness campaign at UBC - a major trip destination and a hub for knowledge, technology, and innovation."
The team partnered with OHM Cycles, an e-bike manufacturer based in Abbotsford, to hold a test drive event on campus this past March. The event was well received by the UBC community with over 120 members trying an e-bike, double the team's participant target. “We were able to seed interest in electric bicycle use among commuters to UBC, and are hoping that this takes some vehicles off the road in the immediate future,” says Olajide.
The idea for the e-Bike Revolution campaign started in the team’s COMM 447 Applied Project Management class. Olajide credits instructor Robert Goatham's approach to teaching project management theory through practical application. "His learning by doing approach was essential to our team's success," says Olajide.
Goatham, in turn, praises the team’s hard work and preparation: "Ultimately their clarity of vision, great teamwork and good execution won out the day."
This is the second consecutive win for UBC at the competition. In 2014, another team originating from COMM 447 won the Wideman Prize for their interactive project that gave teens a new perspective on Paralympic athletes.