SIUE’s partners with Alton on completing development project

SSCC students having completed the first year of projects with the City of Alton shown (L-R): Oluwemimo Esho, research assistant in the Office of Educational Research; Hannah Miller and Amy Yates, both seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS); Nolan Rogers, third-year in the School of Pharmacy; Taylour Bertelsman, CAS senior; Ryan Gueldener, senior in the School of Engineering; Amanda Hoffman, and Sarah Pillen; both CAS seniors; and Maggie Doolin, School of Business senior.

Students enrolled in academic courses as part of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Successful Communities Collaborative (SSCC) completed a year of real-life community development projects in partnership with the City of Alton.

The yearlong partnership brought together students from seven different disciplines with the goal of advancing local resilience and sustainability based on community-identified environmental, social and economic issues and needs.

Projects in Alton were focused on small business development, accessibility and livability.

“The City of Alton is truly grateful for the collaboration with SIUE, and we look forward to maintaining this relationship beyond the current academic school year,” said Alton Mayor Brant Walker. “Engaging students and faculty to look at our community, and identify ways to make Alton a better place to live and work has been a great learning experience for us.”

Connie Frey Spurlock, Ph.D., SSCC faculty director and associate professor in the Department of Sociology, noted the level of expertise that SIUE students and faculty brought to the projects.

“SSCC is about bringing what the University has an abundance of–talented, creative students and faculty to the community,” said Frey Spurlock. “It was good to have our students provide new ideas, energy and momentum, so the community can better achieve its own goals.”

Alton Mayor Brant Walker

Highlights of SSCC’s accomplishments this first program year included:

  • Sociology students in the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities program (spring) identified existing and perceived barriers to business development, which will be shared with the City of Alton to aid new business growth. These students also took part in a pop-up event where they painted the street green to demonstrate plans for new bicycle lanes along two blocks of East Broadway and provided Alton residents an opportunity to provide feedback on the plan.
  • Students in Civil Engineering 493 (spring), in consultation with engineers at Sheppard, Morgan & Schwaab, created plans to improve Alton’s State Street. These plans include alternative intersections and ADA-accessible curb ramps. Students also developed a storm water management plan for the city.
  • Computer Management and Information Systems 470 students (fall 2018) compiled data and provided the foundation to develop a mobile app with the purpose of promoting Alton’s small businesses and retail centers. Students in Computer Science CS 425 (spring 2019) began the coding groundwork for the app, while students enrolled in CS 499 will make final additions and changes in fall 2019.

“There is no substitute for real-world experience, and our SIUE Successful Communities Collaborative project provided just that,” said Parker Littlejohn, School of Business senior who took the CMIS 470 class. “Gaining this tangible experience with the guidance of Dr. Laurie Giddens and other SIUE faculty was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The community partner for the 2019-20 school year will be announced soon, according to Frey Spurlock.

SIUE Successful Communities Collaborative (SSCC) is a cross-disciplinary program that supports one-year partnerships between the university and communities in Illinois to advance local resilience and sustainability based on community-identified environmental, social and economic issues and needs