UW Bothell, Bellevue partners in progress

Michael Ervick speaking
Michael Ervick speaks to UW, Bellevue representatives. / Livable City year photos

Three University of Washington Bothell faculty members, Michael Ervick, Mark Chen and Annie Bruck, will lead their students on multiple community-based learning and research projects this academic year with the city of Bellevue.

Bellevue is this year’s partner with the University of Washington in the Livable City Year (LCY) initiative. It connects a local government with UW classes to advance livability and sustainability projects. This is the third year for the program whose previous city partners were Auburn and Tacoma. This is the first year UW Bothell faculty and students are engaged.

Bellevue logo

Ervick, a lecturer in the UW Bothell School of Business, spoke at the kickoff event Oct. 9 at the UW in Seattle. His business consulting course this fall includes one team that will offer strategic planning for Startup 425, small business development program for Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond and Renton.

A second team is working with Bellevue’s planning department to explore the potential for developing a small business incubator in support of Startup 425. The project includes identifying locations for startups that need space for light industrial work such as 3D printing. The cities are looking for a way to turn the Startup 425 program into a self-sustaining program.

Another team will help develop a customizable online brochure for parks and community services. The mutually beneficial partnership is a great use of tax money, Ervick said.

“The university is a public institution, and the city is a public institution,” Ervick said. “The city gets to leverage young students in advancing their development, and the students get the experience of doing the work and get to put that on their resume.”

Chen is a lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences who teaches a user research course in the Interactive Media Design (IMD) program. Chen’s team will give some design ideas for the city’s website to Enzhou Wang, Bellevue’s information technology manager. Identifying patterns of browsing behavior, students will create a “persona” — an imaginary person based on aggregate information — and a typical pathway of website use.

“We’re hugely grateful that LCY exists and has led to an amazing opportunity for students in IMD on an authentic research and design challenge,” Chen said. “The city of Bellevue’s website is rather large, and we’re very appreciative that Enzhou Wang is willing to work with students on such an important and prominent site.”

Bruck, a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, is planning a project with the Bellevue Fire Department. Students will develop outreach strategies for the most at-risk populations in the city of 141,000 people.

“From its inception in 2016, the Livable City Year program was intended to be a tri-campus initiative at the University of Washington,” said Teri Thomson Randall, LCY program manager. “With Bothell faculty and students engaged in the Livable City Year program for the first time this year, we are delighted to be fulfilling that potential and enhancing the breadth of expertise we can offer our city partners.”

Sandeep Krishnamurthy, dean of the School of Business; Kara Adams, director of Community Engagement; Layla Taylor, Community-Based Learning and Research program manager; and Ruth Johnston, vice chancellor of Planning & Administration, have been instrumental in the partnerships, Randall said.

The UW’s Livable City Year program is led by Branden Born, associate professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning, and Jennifer Otten, associate professor in the School of Public Health.

In total, UW faculty and students will provide Bellevue with research, data analysis and advice on more than 30 projects, winding up with a presentation in June. A detailed list of the projects is online.

“We need your ideas. We need your research. We need your energy,” Nathan McCommon, deputy city manager, told faculty and students at the kickoff. “You will make us better.”

circle meeting during kickoff event
UW, Bellevue participants at Livable City Year kickoff event.

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