Civil Engineering Capstone course provides actionable engineering updates to Winnequah Park

Professor Mark Oleinik’s students recommend engineering updates for existing structures in this Monona park, which aim to “engage and inspire” community involvement in Winnequah’s recreational opportunities. (UniverCity Year project final report)


Devin R. Larsen


Shelly Strom, Marshall Curry


City of Monona, WI, United States
University of Wisconsin - Madison
UniverCity Year
Case Type
Project Stories
EPA Region 5, USA

Among the City of Monona’s natural parks system, the 44-acre Winnequah Park is its “crown jewel.” Located in the middle of the city, Winnequah Park acts as a refuge from city life, both for Monona and nearby Madison, Wisconsin, residents. Park-goers are offered year-round recreational opportunities, including field sports through the summer and ice skating atop the frozen lagoon in winter. 

Yet for all of its incredible natural and man-made features, Monona officials were looking to diversify recreation and entertainment opportunities to increase park engagement. Expert landscaping and engineering planning would be required to conceptualize and implement park upgrades for Winnequah park. 

The UniverCity Year program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an EPIC-Network member, was created to help local government and community partners with identified sustainability and livability projects. Participating University faculty incorporate community-identified projects into classes, and provide students with on-the-ground experience in support of a more sustainable and livable future for the partnered community. 

During the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the City of Monona was chosen to partner with the UniverCity Year program due to its proximity to the university and for strong support from Mayor Bob Miller.

Civil engineering students create and assess park redesigns 

The UniverCity Year program partnered UW-Madison’s Civil Engineering 578: Senior Capstone Design course with the City of Monona to provide actionable engineering updates to Winnequah Park. At the direction of Professor Mark Oleinik, students recommended engineering improvements to existing structures, all of which would improve community engagement with the park. 

To achieve this, students completed the following procedures: 

  • Created three design alternatives for the Winnequah Park
  • Conducted evaluation of sustainability and feasibility for each of the three proposed designs
  • Collected community input from a public information meeting, site visits, and an envision assessment

Final park design aims to ignite communal “interest and involvement” 

Students provided numerous recommendations for engineering upgrades to be made at Winnequah Park, which collectively aimed to “engage and inspire the community to reignite their interest and involvement in all Winnequah Park has to offer” (UniverCity Year project final report). This finalized site design provided numerous site upgrades, some of which included: 

  • Increasing park attendance with the renovation of the Dream Park shelter, an expanded parking lot, and the relocation of sports fields to make simultaneous play easier
  • Improving park health by dredging the lagoon to remove contaminants and minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers throughout the park
  • Adding new amenities, including an additional shelter, an expanded parking lot, more restrooms, an amphitheater, and two steel bridges over park waterways

The completed student design entered into the submittal phase of contracting, wherein all legal construction documents and planning initiatives were submitted to the City of Monona. Upon implementation of the final design, Monona should expect a reignition of the recreational activity Winnequah Park has to offer to the community.

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

“Our design aims to engage and inspire the community to reignite their interest and involvement in all Winnequah Park has to offer.“

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