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Ford Fund Grant Gives Sustainability a Push Forward

published: 2010-05-21 15:22

For more than a century, Ford Motor Company has been known for its horsepower. Now the company is supporting an innovative new program based on pedal power.

Ford Motor Company Fund has awarded a $50,000 Ford College Community Challenge Grant to The Georgia Institute of Technology to establish a unique bike share program. Georgia Tech and Emory University combined the successful Bike Emory program with the student-created "viaCycle" bike distribution system to create the winning entry.

“Winning proposals have a distinctive student perspective on what it means to have a sustainable community,” said Mike Schmidt, director of Education and Community Development at Ford Motor Company Fund. “The Georgia Tech-Emory proposal caught our eye since it involved public and private university collaboration, and an exciting new approach to a bike share program.”

Designed by mechanical engineering students from the Sustainable Design and Manufacturing program at Georgia Tech, viaCycle creates a “kiosk-free” bike share infrastructure. Bicycles can be located and checked in and out using simple text messages from any mobile phone. The bikes are equipped with integrated smart-locks, and feature GPS and wireless communications that are connected to viaCycle's central servers and software system.

The first full fleet of bikes will be available for use on Emory University’s campus this summer.

The Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) is a national challenge grant competition that recognizes colleges and universities utilizing a school's resources to address an urgent social need or problem in the local community. Proposals must address the theme of the Challenge – Building Sustainable Communities – in some unique and innovative way. Unlike many traditional college grant programs, Ford C3 focuses on projects that have significant student input, involvement and leadership from beginning to end.

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