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How a student-powered partnership will save Concordians time

The university’s efficient new OPUS card procedure came out of a class project
August 27, 2015

Source: University Communications Services

When Concordians return to classes this fall, they’ll be the first cohort in Quebec to apply for discounted OPUS transit cards online through the MyConcordia portal.

The twist? This efficient process began as a student project.

“Supporting student initiatives and enhancing the student experience is a priority for Concordia,” says Marc Denoncourt, the university’s chief information officer.

Back in 2013, Anthony Boulos — an industrial engineering undergrad — was tasked with coming up with an innovative proposal for his Technical Writing and Communication class (ENCS 282).

He decided to tackle the procedure many Montreal students must follow to prove their eligibility for a reduced-fare OPUS card, which involves a trip to the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) photo studio in Berri-UQAM Metro Station or standing in line on campus-specific dates.

Boulos’ idea was to remove the legwork.

Anthony Boulos Anthony Boulos

“I'm in industrial engineering, so I'm really about the optimization of processes,” he says. “In this case, the process was waiting in line, and I changed the process to make it electronic.”

The project got Boulos an A, so he contacted René Coutu, the STM’s director of Ticketing Studies, and Concordia to see if they were interested in advancing the project. A close collaboration was born.

“We hired Boulos to work with us on this pilot project, which involved technical development with the STM,” Denoncourt says. “We were glad to extend this work experience to one of our future graduates.”

The result was an all-around win-win situation. When the project launched this August, Concordia became the first university at which students can order their reduced-fare OPUS cards online and receive them by mail.

“We are pleased to report that the system is working well since its launch August 17,” says Denoncourt. “The real test will be over the next few weeks as the back-to-school period ramps up, so we will continue to evaluate as we move forward.”

Next month, Boulos — who is currently enrolled in the Institute for Co-operative Education’s Industrial Experience Option — will begin his final year at Concordia. He hopes to find an opportunity in management consulting.

Does he have plans for more projects with the STM? Not for the time being at least, he says. “I've been working on this since January 2014. I'm super proud of it going through, and I think that will be it for me for now!”

For his part, Denoncourt says the project is a great example of a successful, collaborative partnership that stands to benefit the community at large. 

“At Concordia, we're proud of our role as an innovation partner in the community and working together generates great results. We were pleased with both the enthusiasm and commitment of the STM on helping to make this improved student experience a reality.” 

Find out more about Concordia's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

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