RCP Fellows Team Is Finalist for 2020 MetroLab Student Cup

Metrolab Student Cup logo

A team of University of Minnesota graduate students and Resilient Communities Project (RCP) Fellows was a finalist for this year’s MetroLab Student Cup. The Student Cup is intended to recognize exceptional student civic research projects, and create pathways for careers and partnerships in the civic research and innovation domain. The competition was sponsored by the MetroLab Network, an international collaborative of cities, counties, and universities focused on data- and technology-oriented civic research and innovation, and was held in conjunction with the network’s Annual Summit this fall. 

The RCP Fellows team of graduate students Catherine J. Bruns (Liberal Arts), Gunnar Carlson (Public Affairs), Kendra Klenz (Design), Kyle Franta (Design), and Vipasha Bansal (Liberal Arts) submitted their work on a project with the City of Little Canada to facilitate equitable community engagement around master planning for the community's Pioneer Park. The project was conducted in collaboration with Little Canada’s Parks & Recreation Manager, Bryce Shearen, and Director of Community Development and Planning, Corrin Wendell.

The RCP Fellows team was one of 12 semi-finalists—from among nearly 50 project submissions—selected to compete for the Student Cup. For the semi-final round on November 12, Catherine Bruns presented on behalf of the team. Bruns participated in a live pitch (via Zoom) to a national panel of judges representing local government, civic organizations, and academia, competing against a team from Boston University and another team from the University of Minnesota. The RCP Fellows team was selected the winner, earning a $1000 cash award and advancing to the final round on November 17. 

Pictured (from left to right)--Row 1: Vipasha Bansal, Kyle Franta, Kendra Klenz; Row 2: Cate Bruns, Bryce Shearen, Corrin Wendell; Row 3: Gunnar Carlson
Top row (left to right): Vipasha Bansal, Kyle Franta, Kendra Klenz; middle row: Catherine Bruns, Bryce Shearen, Corrin Wendell; bottom row: Gunnar Carlson

In the final round, Bruns again represented the RCP Fellows, competing against teams from Rice University, the University of Miami, and the University of Washington. The Rice University Team was ultimately selected as the Student Cup winner, earning a $5000 cash prize. In addition, the team's project, which focused on understanding voter preferences and voting intentions during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be featured as the MetroLab Network “Innovation of the Month” in GovTech Magazine.

Congratulations to Catherine, Gunnar, Kendra, Kyle, and Vipasha for advancing to the final round, and for their exceptional work on this project!


The RCP Fellows Program partners University of Minnesota graduate and professional students with local government agencies in Minnesota to provide research and technical assistance. Through the program, interdisciplinary teams of students collaborate directly with city and county staff on a high-priority project that serves to advance community sustainability, livability, and resilience.