CDR Team Presents Research to Sprint Executives

On May 9, 10 students from the School of Architecture, Design & Planning’s Center for Design Research took a trip to Sprint’s headquarters in Overland Park. There they presented new concepts for utilizing Sprint’s Velocity technology to a group of Sprint’s senior management. The students are enrolled in the Department of Design’s Advanced Topics in Design class, Design 560.

The industry-partnership with Sprint began last fall when CDR Director Greg Thomas, professor of design, engaged representatives of the global telecommunications giant in discussions about incorporating Velocity in a different project, wireless doctor’s office on wheels called the WellCar.

Velocity, which Sprint manufactures for the auto industry, utilizes a car’s on-board computer to provide numerous enhancements to the driving experience. It is a completely customizable, global, end-to-end connected vehicle solution.

Thomas began working with Jeff Uden, Manager of Connected Vehicle Product and Systems Engineering, and soon after the new year, Amyn Nanjee, Lead Big Data Product Architect for Sprint Velocity took control of the project.

The class’s project brief was to identify additional markets for the technology to establish a broader base of sales for the product.

One of the unique aspects of the CDR’s industry partnerships is the extensive involvement of company representatives in each sponsored project. The Velocity project was no exception, and over the next few months, Nanjee held frequent conference calls with the class and often traveled to Lawrence to meet with them. 

A successful mid-semester presentation led to an invitation for a high-level presentation at Sprint, which included CIO Peter Campbell. Also present were Brian Finnerty, the director of the Connected Vehicle Program, Uden, Nanjee, and about 20 others involved in the Velocity program. 

Velocity system is set to take verbal commands, such as “where is the nearest pizza place,” or “ set temperature to 72 degrees.” The CDR’s students looked at how the system worked, and developed completely different applications to considerably expand its use. The ideas the students came up with were extremely diverse. One was a fire and rescue device that could be provide blueprints of buildings or monitor firefighters’ body temperature.

Others included the enhancement of the operations of a national chain of bagel store, improving safety at offshore drilling rigs, and tools for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

“The students covered a tremendous amount of territory in terms of the interconnectivity of things, connected cars, wearables, all the same areas the company is interested in,” said Campbell. “I was impressed with the professionalism and capabilities of the students. In context, these are all ideas that are actionable.”

Sprint CIO

Pictured: Brian Finnety, Peter Campbell (Front), and Jeff Uden.

“Even though the CDR’s relationship with Sprint is less than a year old, we have already produced a significant amount of important research,” said Thomas. We are delighted with their extensive involvement and enthusiasm for our work.”

The successful completion of the Sprint Velocity means that Sprint will likely step up its engagement in another CDR project, the WellCar, Discussions concerning an internship program, and more industry-sponsored projects are also ongoing.

More information about Velocity can be seen at

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