In Loco is an twofold food service designed around the gastronomic needs of Carnegie Mellon's graduate student population. It would provide a signature dining experience on CMU’s campus that caters to everyday nutritional needs of grad students while simultaneously creating venues that foster community through gastronomy and offer temporary escape from academic life.
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With this project, we were charged with addressing a service need affecting the student population at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). First, we narrowed down our problem space, starting with an intuition that the culinary options at CMU did not match student preferences or needs. Knowing that this problem space was still wide open, we knew we had to research the different gastronomic options on and around campus to determine our final direction and come up with an innovative solution to this perceived problem.
We began our research by exploring all of the gastronomic options open to graduate students, who spend long hours on campus and have a less comprehensive knowledge of the campus dining plans and options. First, we conducted a survey of graduate students to see what they thought of the on campus dining options. We combined this with internet reviews of CMU's culinary experiences. Next, we observed and spoke to students frequenting the food trucks at the edge of campus and at a popular dining hall. Lastly, we participated in the graduate student and faculty only lunch service at an on campus dining hall.
To synthesize our research, we created four personas to help us focus on the needs and goals that would shape our services. These personas were still broad, so we narrowed them down to two, which highlighted the need for ethnic food and promotion of group dining opportunities.
Our initial proposed solution was a themed dining experience on the CMU campus that embraced the quirkiness and diversity of the students. However, upon evaluating this design, we realized that this design did not adequately address the most pressing issue students face -- the need to work adapt to stressful schedules and workloads.
Our revised, two-fold design is first and foremost a late night option, to accommodate the late night working sessions that are common for hard-working graduate students. To ensure efficiency, any size order can be taken at the truck's location, which changes daily to ensure that all students can have easy access to nutritious, quality food at least once per week. However, orders can be placed for larger groups (4 or more) and are delivered by bicycle messengers, known as 'Bots'.