Work by first-year UAB design student chosen for Woodlawn Foundation bus

A bus wrapped in UAB student Hannah Rettig’s graphic design will travel neighborhoods surrounding Birmingham’s Woodlawn community schools to provide services to parents.

woodlawn busA design by University of Alabama at Birmingham student Hannah Rettig will adorn a refurbished school bus, essentially a mobile classroom, that will travel Woodlawn neighborhoods providing information and services to parents and children in an effort to help increase student success in school.

The bus and its services will be unveiled along with Woodlawn Innovation Network at Woodlawn Foundation’s community fair Sunday, June 1, from 3-6 p.m., with the special presentation at 4 p.m., in the Social Venture Parking Lot, 5529 First Ave. South. Free food, games and prizes will be provided to participants. The Woodlawn Innovation Network is the new STEAM curriculum — science, technology, engineering, art + design, and math — within the Woodlawn system of schools.

Kyana White of the Woodlawn Foundation approached UAB Assistant Professor of Art Doug Barrett for designs, and he assigned it as a project within the semester schedule. Eighteen of his Department of Art and Art History ARS 250 Introduction to Graphic Design students participated and submitted 15 designs. Barrett says he loves these sorts of projects, which are community- and service-based.

“While it seems really complex, it was actually a great project for beginning students,” Barrett said. “They had no preconceptions of what they could or could not do, so the sky was the limit. It also was a great project to think in 3-D. Since the bus is a complex object, they had to think about it in those terms.”

White met with the students and talked about the foundation’s mission, what the bus will do and who the audience is. The students then worked for three weeks on designs and presented the designs back to members of the Woodlawn Foundation. That also served as an excellent way for students to practice presentation skills and work with a client, Barrett says. The work of first-year graphic design student Hannah Rettig was chosen.

The students worked in Adobe Illustrator because vector graphics are scalable and can be made giant, Barrett says. Rettig’s file was sent to a specialty printer who printed the design on large sheets to wrap on the bus. The graphics that fit over the windows are transparent from the inside.

 Barrett was an inaugural faculty fellow in Service Learning at UAB last year. The interdisciplinary team of faculty members worked for a year on theories, implementation and assessment of academic service learning and how to integrate it into courses across disciplines.

“This type of project gets students to give back to the community and to understand that they can make a difference.”

“This type of project gets students to give back to the community and to understand that they can make a difference,” Barrett said. “The added fact that Hannah gets to see her work become real and take its place in the world is very exciting for a young designer.”

UAB Service Learning likes to highlight projects such as this, says Libba Vaughan, coordinator of Academic Engagement and Global Citizenship in Service Learning.

“This is the best kind of community engagement project — students collaborating with a community partner on a project that not only addresses a need defined by the partner, but enhances student learning as well,” Vaughan said. “Doug Barrett does a great job of connecting what he needs to teach in ARS 250 with a real-world, hands-on project. Kyana White and the Woodlawn Foundation were terrific community partners because Kyana served a valuable and vital role as a community instructor to Doug’s students.”

White says the Woodlawn Foundation is working to create a seamless education pipeline that ensures students will graduate from high school with an intentional path forward to college or a career. The bus is the group’s Mobile Parent Resource Center, one of several projects within that pipeline.

“Beginning in August, the repurposed school bus will travel neighborhoods surrounding Woodlawn community schools to provide information and services to our children’s primary educators, their parents,” White said. “Resources will include workshops and activities designed especially for parents, such as financial management classes and parenting workshops, as well as services for their children including early childhood screenings, immunizations, and more. The bus features six computer workstations, a projector and screen, and Wi-Fi. It is essentially a mobile classroom.”

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