Smith Dining Services will soon add to efforts to reduce its carbon footprint with a pedal-powered cart for transporting supplies to catered functions around campus, designed and partly built by engineering students.
The vehicle, dubbed the “cargo cycle,” is the culmination of a yearlong project by the student organization Engineers for a Sustainable World.
From the beginning, the project fit perfectly with the club’s objectives. “We saw that catering services had a need for replacing their fuel-inefficient van with something more environmentally friendly,” said Brittany Bennett ‘15, president of the club. “And we aim to make Smith College and the local area a more sustainable place.”
Resembling a giant tricycle, the vehicle features built-in space for trays between the two back wheels. Students manufactured the cargo portion, which was attached to a bicycle frame in the college’s machine shop.
The cargo area is large enough for supplies to support functions of about 50 people, according to Ann Finley, are manager in Dining Services.
“I expect that our student worker staff will be very interested in using it to support our catering events, as well as some of our regular staff who are looking for exercise and adventure,” said Finley.
Using the cargo cycle will reduce the need to use catering vans, each of which produces an average of 13,743 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
“As a department, Dining Services supports sustainability efforts,” said Finley. “That’s one of the reasons we have been enthusiastic about this project – we feel it sets a good example and encourages other departments on campus to think outside the box.”
Last spring, the project earned Engineers for a Sustainable World a campus leadership award that annually recognizes a student organization that “represents the ideals of sustainable leadership through advocacy, programming or community events.”
Engineers for a Sustainable World is already at work on its next project: a solar irrigation system for an apple orchard at the MacLeish Field Station in Whately.
All students are welcome to join ESW; email firstname.lastname@example.org for meeting times and other information.