North Central College - Naperville, IL

Naperville utilizes North Central student researchers to conduct survey

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Mary Galvan, associate professor of marketing
Mary Galvan, associate professor of marketing

July 11, 2011—As the City of Naperville moves forward with implementing the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI), the City recently recognized its partnership with North Central College and its students in conducting a survey to gauge utility customers’ existing understanding and perceptions of the NSGI.

During spring term, four students from Associate Professor of Marketing Mary Galvan’s Market Research class conducted a survey of 1,000 randomly selected Naperville utility customers to ask if they had heard about the smart grid, whether they understood the benefits, what their satisfaction was with the City-owned electric utility, and more.

The North Central students involved in the project were Frank Cataudella ’12, management and marketing major; Joelle Lusson ’12, marketing major; Andrew Mueller ’12, management major; and Chris Rivard ’12, marketing major.

The challenge of the course, said Galvan, is to teach students market research and have them apply what they’ve learned to actual business situations. Students write the actual survey, collect and analyze the data, draw conclusions and make recommendations based on the research results.

“The opportunity for our students to engage in service-learning projects such as the one for the City of Naperville is a win-win situation,” Galvan said. “Students win because they work for an actual business client, and the City wins because it receives free research. The Smart Grid project was especially interesting and educational for our students.”

Naperville Community Relations Manager Nadja Lalvani said, “The City is extremely impressed with the professionalism and dedication shown by the students. To partner with North Central College, a cherished and respected Naperville institution in its 150th year, and have such a tremendous response to the survey is outstanding. We look forward to future research opportunities as the NSGI moves into new phases.”

The City reports that more than 200 people responded to the survey, with 81 percent indicating they were already aware of the smart grid project. Sixty-six percent of respondents knew Naperville’s utility rates are much lower than surrounding communities, and more than half said they already monitor how much electricity they use in a given month. Of the 213 respondents, 180 agreed they would like to be able to monitor the cost of their household’s electrical usage. Eighty-one percent said they are already taking steps to lower their monthly electric bill.

A summary of the survey results is available on the City’s website.