Students contribute to vision of UMore's future
Education is at the heart of the University of Minnesota's UMore project. And for at least two young women, the planning of the large residential project gave them the educational opportunity of a lifetime.
Over the summer Leslie Theiste and Allie Klynderud worked as the 2010 College of Design interns exploring affordable housing opportunities for UMore Park. Klynderud spent her summer researching financial models for affordable housing while Theist concentrated her efforts on energy efficient incentives in affordable housing.
At the end of the 13-week summer internship both women presented their findings to the UMore board. The finished products included a report by Klynderu titled Financial Models for Affordable Housing at UMore Park and one by Theiste titled UMore Park and Energy Efficient Incentives in Affordable Housing: Developer to Homeowner.
The reports will be used to help plan the residential community. The university plans to develop a sustainable community of 20,000 to 30,000 people on 5,000 acres it owns in Rosemount over the next 30 years. The university's board of regents approved a master concept plan in December 2008. To fund the project, the university will partner with a private company to mine gravel from areas within the property.
Because the city will have to approve the university's plans the women presented their reports to the Rosemount Planning Commission in late October as well.
Theiste said presenting to the commission was nerve wracking but a good experience.
"It really gave me insight into what a real life job is like," said Theiste.
The women were given a list of topics they could research. Theiste chose sustainability because it interested her. To conduct her research Theiste searched the technologies that currently exist and how those technologies could be incorporated into an affordable housing structure.
"It helped me learn how to research." Theiste said of the experience. "I hit a few dead ends but I found some things that I think will be helpful."
Klynderu said while she was already familiar with affordable housing for renters, she wanted to know more about options for purchase. She researched models on the Internet and talked with experts in the field about affordable housing programs.
"The most difficult part was narrowing down to see what would work best for UMore," said Klynderud.
Both women said in addition to providing them with education, the experience presented good networking opportunities that could help them in the future. Klynderud will graduate in December and Theiste will graduate in May 2011.
Looking back on the summer both young women said they are proud of the work they did for the project.
"It hit me half way through that this is something I'll be able to follow for the next 30 years and watch it grow," said Klynderud.
Theiste added, "It's exciting to be part of it. I will be able to say I worked on this when it was forming.'
Theiste and Klynderud weren't the only ones to get something out of the internship. Carla Carlson, the executive director of the office for UMore Park academic initiatives at the University of Minnesota, said the project created quality work that will aid in planning the future.
"We are very interested in providing affordable housing and finding ways to incorporate energy efficient designs with an educational component," said Carlson.
The results of their research will help the university integrate those elements into its planning.
"This was a superior experience. A way for us to know exactly what type of value our students can bring," Carlson said. "There was high value in the work they did."
Carlson said having students work with staff brought new ideas and resources to the table.
"It was so refreshing to have students working with us," said Carlson
As the years roll on Carlson said there will be opportunities at UMore for learning in nearly every department of the university.