SUNY today announced that it will begin development of the ‘SUNY EduTram’, an innovative system-wide, supersonic transportation system that will connect all 64 SUNY campuses across New York State. The system will have the capacity to move students, faculty, and resources between SUNY campuses in a matter of minutes. The decision to build the EduTram comes in support of SUNY’s Seamless Transfer program — which enables thousands of students every year to transfer general education credits between SUNY campuses, and SUNY’s Shared Services program – which aims to implement operational efficiencies to allow campuses to shift administrative costs to academic and student services.
“We are extremely proud to announce the ambitious development of the SUNY EduTram,” said Conner A. L. Vanderbuilt, vice chancellor for strategic and systematic movement. “This is the only project of its kind to be created by any educational system in the world. It is our goal with the SUNY EduTram to physically connect every SUNY student and faculty member to more than 7,000 diverse educational programs offered at every campus. This mix of research, ingenuity and educational opportunities is the real Power of SUNY.”
The exact top speed of the SUNY EduTram is yet to be determined, but experts estimate a trip between SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Fredonia to take less than one hour, and from the Fashion Institute of Technology to SUNY Oswego to take less than 90 minutes. It will be powered by solar cells implanted atop the train in conjunction with a network of exercise bikes installed throughout the passenger cars.
“Our power source is revolutionary,” said Joe Kingley, the lead engineer for the project. “We first explored somehow turning rugby into power–an activity of excess supply on these college campuses–but are proud that we were able to harness cycling to power the EduTram. It shows our true to commitment to two of our strategic plan’s Six Big Ideas — SUNY and a Healthier New York, and with the solar panels, SUNY and an Energy-Smart NY.”
In addition to transporting students and faculty, the SUNY EduTram will also have specialized storage cars with climate-controlled transport containers to efficiently move inventory, paper contracts, textbooks, and cold cheese pizza between campuses.
“Our steering committee instructed us to really represent what SUNY is all about: systemness, and providing a superior educational experience. I think our ability to address Shared Services directly really drives this point forward,” Vanderbuilt added. “And the pizza is a little encouragement.”
For students who cannot afford any time away from their desk while traveling, the SUNY EduTram will be equipped with 5TB/s WiFi in support of the groundbreaking Open SUNY program, an online collaboration of courses from across the system that saves students time and money in earning a degree. And for those looking to take a break from the books, each car will be outfitted with two consoles hosting Minecraft and none hosting Shaq-Fu.
The SUNY EduTram will begin construction in late 2015 and be completed in three phases–the first of which will connect the four university centers: the University at Albany, Binghamton University, the University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University. The first passengers are expected to board in 2022 by simply using their SUNY Card upon departure; interconnectivity of the entire SUNY system will be completed by 2031.
Update: Connor A.L. Vanderbuilt and Joe Kingley have just informed SUNY that the SUNY EduTram will be put on hold indefinitely. Fortunately, SUNY will survive without a super train; OpenSUNY enables thousands of students to earn a college degree on their own schedule, anywhere in the world; SUNY Seamless Transfer still transfers general education credits between SUNY campuses; and SUNY Shared Services still drives cost savings across the largest comprehensive system of higher education in America. And although we have to shelf the idea for a while, our fantastic team of student assistants—Glenn, Lesley, and Olivia—visualized this incredibly inefficient transportation system, perhaps, perfectly, in conjunction with New York native Steven Valente, who crafted the fabulous renderings of the SUNY EduTram.
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.