The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Stepping up to solve the sprinkler issue

Here at SMU, one of our favorite things to complain about is the sprinkler system’s eye for vengeance. I have several friends who swear that there is some evil being who hunts down students with the sprinklers as they dash across Dallas Hall Lawn to class. Well, a group of my friends decided to do something about the situation rather than sit back and be armchair critics.

A class I am currently enrolled in tasks students with using data to solve problems. Most groups choose to do an imaginary company or product for this, but my group wanted to get involved with something that impacted ourselves and our peers: we wanted to optimize the infamous sprinkler system of SMU.

We have only been working with the grounds department for a few weeks now, but we have learned that they get a lot of undeserved flak from the student body. I just want to help set the record straight.

Perhaps the biggest complaint is that the sprinklers water the sidewalks. Obviously, this is a bad thing because water doesn’t help concrete grow. The explanation behind this – though not an excuse – is that simply the sprinklers were often there long before the sidewalks.

Take for instance Dallas Hall Lawn, which is perhaps the most noticed perpetrator. Dallas Hall has the oldest sprinkler system on campus. When it was put in the only sidewalk was the one that runs north to south from the flagpole to Dallas Hall.

Another often heard complaint is that SMU is constantly watering. Well, the reason for that can be summed up in one word: “Boulevarding.” Boulevarding, especially on Dallas Hall Lawn, absolutely demolishes the grass.

In order to get the campus back to looking as expected, the lawns must be overseeded and watered to germinate and grow the grass.

Why doesn’t the grounds department simply fix these problems then? Well, like most other things in the world, it comes down to money. They are staffed to maintain the current system, and not to design new systems.

Just two people manage the entire SMU irrigation system and there is only so much they have time for.

That’s where my engineering team has stepped into the picture. We are planning to use our skills to recreate the sprinkler system for Dallas Hall Lawn and hopefully optimize water usage and coverage to meet both SMU community expectations as well as city regulations.

Obviously this is just a small start and there is always more work to be done, but the grounds department really is working their hardest to maintain the massive project that is SMU.

Rather than writing snarky Facebook statuses about things that bother you, be proactive and take steps to solve whatever’s bothering you.

Of course, this isn’t always possible or practical, but, as my mom often tells me “Quit worrying about things outside your control.”

Ray is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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