Montana State University


Montana State University
Community-Engaged and Transformational Scholarship Program
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
0 - 20,000
Architecture, Engineering, GIS, Transportation

CATS Program

Website |

The Community-Engaged and Transformational Scholarship (CATS) initiative is an endeavor by Montana State University (MSU) to establish meaningful and large-scale partnerships with local communities through course-based project collaborations. Currently, CATS has initiated a 3-year partnership with the City of Bozeman, which began with three “pilot” projects during the 2018-2019 academic year. The pilot program year integrated City of Bozeman project work into courses in GIS, Architecture, and Education.

2018-2019 Academic Year project partnerships included:

GIS – Public Art map web overlay

The City of Bozeman envisions a creative, learning culture through, among other things, support for public art. City GIS staff enlisted three student groups (7 students total) from a senior level Geography course to gather the clean spatial data needed to add public art installations around town as a layer on the City’s public interactive mapping application. The City mayor attended final student presentations to recognize the students’ good work and service to the City.

This semester, the City has worked extensively on building an online platform capable of being used by the students to collect high accuracy GPS data from their own mobile devices. This approach uses new GPS receiver technology that is being lent out by the City of Bozeman GIS department directly to the students participating in the project. The City of Bozeman has also built a standardized platform online which the students have been made members of, and allows them to all collect data simultaneously in a collaborative effort that is automatically updating a database on the back-end which hosts the spatial data as well as digital media related to each of the individual art installations. Once the students have completed their data collection project the data layer will be hosted on the City’s interactive mapping page. This will allow any member of the public to view the locations, information about the art pieces, as well as photos of the installations.

City of Bozeman project lead, Chris Kangas

Architectural Design Studio Accessory Dwelling Unit

The U.S. Census Bureau ranks Bozeman as the fastest growing city of its size. The rapid growth has led to a shortage in housing and rental stock. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) such as apartments over garages can provide housing options for individuals, couples or small families, aging parents, and college students. The City of Bozeman’s Community Development staff worked with eight students enrolled in a graduate community design course in the MSU School of Architecture to design six ADUs for community use. Students created ADU design options and developed helpful resources for community members interested in adding an ADU to their property to assist them in getting started. Six community members offered their own residential properties as design sites. The community members worked with MSU faculty and students, and City staff to create shared understanding of the needs and special qualities of individual sites; giving students real world experience mitigating the complexities that existing infrastructure, landscaping, and owner preferences can create. The ADU designs meet zoning and building requirements in Bozeman, as well as design guidelines and special considerations for the site assigned to them. Students presented final ADU designs and shared lessons learned with Commission members at an open house and City Commission meeting at City Hall. Three students from the MSU School of Film and Photography created an informational video about the project.

Education – Developing Youth Understanding of Street Design for Traffic Calming & Safety

Bozeman is encouraging neighborhood-based efforts to address safety concerns by supporting the installation of low-cost temporary pop-up traffic calming projects.  Secondary school teachers enrolled in an MSU graduate education course assisted the City to add to its public outreach and awareness materials on traffic calming by developing lesson plans that can be implemented in STEM classrooms at the middle school level.  The lesson plans teach students what tactical urbanism is and introduce them to a variety of traffic calming strategies. Students apply this knowledge to develop solutions to a specific scenario using creativity and the engineering design process. The lessons also focus on data analysis techniques to assess the effectiveness of traffic calming measures using pre and post vehicle speed data. To facilitate use, the lessons identify connections to state STEM and Next Generation Science Standards.

Additional projects across a variety of disciplines are in process for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Fun Facts about the CATS Program

Year Program Established | 2018
Country | US
Federal Region of Program | 8

Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 16,700

Highlight Articles/Videos

Three students from the MSU School of Film and Photography created an informational video about the Accessory Dwelling Unit project.

City Partners

2018 – 2021 | City of Bozeman • Population: 46,596

Contact Details

Susan Gallagher
Education and Workforce Program Manager
Western Transportation Institute
(406) 994-6559

Translate »