Friday, November 11, 2016

URSP Student Kristine Mosuela and the Design of the Peloton Mobile App

One day last fall, I strapped on a helmet and ventured over 8 miles down Braddock Road from my house to campus. A lifelong environmentalist trying to get in some extra exercise, I wanted to see if I could commute to school by bike on a regular basis. After almost an hour, I finally made it to campus. I was exhausted, but I felt great. I thought: I could probably do this on a regular basis if I planned ahead of time... but then the semester went on and I only commuted by bike only once more before finals came around.

My name is Kristine Mosuela and I am a senior working on my 2nd bachelors in civil engineering. A couple years after finishing my first degree in International Relations, I discovered that my talents in math and science and my passion for the environment and sustainable development could all effectively be engaged through a career in civil engineering. It was in my 300-level Introduction to Environmental Engineering class with Professor Viviana Maggioni that the idea of a mobile app to track and incentivize bike riding first came to life. Through the Classroom 2 Makers Week (C2MW) seminar the following spring, I teamed up with a fellow civil engineering student, Jared Keller to further develop the design, concept, and business model for what we eventually named Peloton.Through the mentorship of several entrepreneurial C2MW professors, including Mahesh Joshi, Mihai Boicu, Colin Reagle and Nathalia Peixoto, the feasibility of the Peloton mobile app became more real.

This semester through the URSP grant, I have the opportunity to continue refining the idea and looking at the feasibility of the app in the context of the George Mason University Fairfax community. Mihai Boicu and Viviana Maggioni are my mentors that guide me along when I have questions or am stuck on my methodology. Recently, I have been working on a literature review of different kinds of incentive- based health and fitness programs in university settings and at large. On a daily basis I find myself doing a lot of reading, and coming up with creative search terms, and talking to people in the transportation and biking world that are more knowledgeable than me. I identify people, departments, and other stakeholders in the Mason community that may have particular insights or opinions on Peloton. By the end of the semester, I hope to deploy a survey to these important contacts to help gauge a) if an incentive program would prove successful in our community, and b) how the Peloton app design might be tweaked to increase its success and sustainability over time.

As a civil engineering student focusing on water resources, it may be hard to see the direct impact that this entrepreneurial IT project has on my career and long-term goals. But I see this project as an extension of the same passion that drives my interest in water resources engineeringthat is, as a means of serving people and the greater good through environmentally sustainable practices. I exercise a number of skills in my everyday research activities that I have no doubt will be useful in my future career: data analysis, effective communication with stakeholders, project management, decision- making, client-centered marketing, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, adaptability, initiative, and most surprisinglyperseverance.

If I find that Mason is indeed an environment that is fit for an interactive, community-based bike incentive program, then I hope to test a Peloton prototype on a small group of Mason students. I would love to find a Mason computer science/IT/app development student or two to join me on this effort.

From there on (and I really hope it doesnt stop there!), I envision refining the prototype into a polished product that we can launch at Mason at-large.

I will leave readers with a fact I learned last week that I think is rather compelling: of all types of commuters, it is cyclists who report the highest levels of happiness with their commutes!