The students behind newly founded tech company Solution Senter met with Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, Sept. 4 to discuss their theory on how to make parking on campus easier.
Enaho Atamenwan, former student in mechanical engineering and founder of Solution Senter, created SmartPark—or rather, the “SmartPark” theory.
“I wanted to create something that would help the school, kick start the solution process,” Atamenwan said. “Parking on campus has always been an issue with us, so why not start there.”
MSU has nine parking lots on campus with 3,084 spaces. According to University Police Chief Dan Williams, they sold only 2,635 decals this semester, leaving at least 449 open parking spots at any time.
Atamenwan hopes his smartphone app will help students find those empty parking spots more easily by telling students exactly which parking spots are open in any given parking lot. However, sensors to monitor parking availability would need to be installed in each lot.
The sensors would then transmit data on each lot’s capacity to a server where it would then be sent to users of the app. Atamenwan said the app will tell users which spots are open using maps of the parking lots.
“The app itself is very simple,” said Carson Bath, senior in computer science and designer of the SmartPark app.
But it’s still in the early stages.
“I haven’t done any of the programming yet, but I’ve started designing the app and have the prototype,” Bath said.
According to Bath, the app will use a simple selection method. The “Lot List” will contain a list of all the parking lots on campus. Once users choose a lot, Bath said they can view its vacancy percentage and an actual map of the lot with the spaces marked as taken or empty.
Along with the mechanical and design process, Solution Senter has taken off as a company as well. Reuben Denwe, junior in mechanical engineering, assisted on the engineering side of the product and on the business side of the company. Alongside Atamenwan, the two have set standards and expectations for their future enterprise.
“It has been really hard, but very rewarding,” Denwe said. “I’ve been taking online business classes and really learned a lot from working first hand on them.”
As founder and CEO of the company, the overall leadership falls to Atamenwan. While holding this leadership position, especially in a small forthcoming business like Solution Senter, a certain amount of knowledge is needed across all aspects of the company. Being an engineering student, the mechanics weren’t difficult for him, however in the same position as Denwe, Atamenwan said the business was much harder than expected.
“We’ve had to memorize documents and non-disclosures for the patent and even had to hire a lawyer,” Atamenwan said. “It’s been very tough, but in the end I think it will all pay off.”
The meeting with Lamb was a short and concise presentation of the company’s proposal. Led by Demi Fasanya, senior in computer science, and James Enwezor, mechanical engineering senior and co-founder of Solution Senter, the team discussed how their prototype could alleviate any parking frustrations and how cost effective it would be for the school to implement it. The team also requested a parking lot to test their product before securing any contracts.
“The only issue I can see is we don’t want student tuition to go up anymore,” Lamb said. “We’re a little above mean right now in the state and we try to position ourselves in the middle, so if it is possible to incorporate it without raising students’ cost, then I think we can take this to a bigger audience.”
Lamb expressed his enthusiasm for what the students have already accomplished.
“You’ve got something here that sells itself,” Lamb said. “Even if we don’t go for it here, I’m very proud that our students came up with such a great idea.”