Carnegie Mellon University

Fourth Year | Spring 2019
05-392 Interaction Design Overview
Professors: Rita Lee, Shelley Moertel


This group project was to research and design a food trucks app, to be used at Carnegie Mellon University to identify alternative non-university food options for students and faculty. The project focused on making certain things more accessible, such as the menu, payment options, and hours (as these often vary, day to day).

In collaboration with Michael Becker, Karen Bowman, and Julie Choi.

See our full research and project documentation here.

1. Research

Research Types

Student Interviews
Walk a Mile Immersion
Worker Interviews

Findings Summary

We developed several insights from our research findings. One of our insights was that people like to pay with Venmo and cash because it is quick, easy, and convenient for the owners. Another insight is that people visit these food trucks less often when there is inclement weather because it is less convenient for them, particularly because they often are traveling a good distance to get to them (from Gates or Hamburg Hall). In general, people would prefer that the food trucks would be closer to Gates/the University Center because they would have to walk less to access them from where they spend most of their time. We also gathered that people choose to eat at these food trucks over campus dining options because they are cheaper most of the time and offer higher quality options than what is available on campus. People particularly appreciate the cultural authenticity of the food and the large portions that these food trucks offer.

We think that the tools and methods used to find these food trucks could be improved since the food trucks don’t constantly update and post their menus online and the food cars use We-Chat, which you can only be added to through personal interaction with someone who is already in it. The personal marketing and advertising for each company could be improved, so they can receive more business throughout the week. We also think that the food trucks could be closer to Gates/Oakland since that’s where the the majority of their customers appear to be based. The food trucks could provide more shelter against the elements, however this would be difficult to implement as designers.

Interview Process

In Class Research Insights

2. Storyboards and Scenarios


by Karen Bowman

It’s 1:30pm, and Amy is feeling hungry. She’s been working in Gates on her Algorithms assignment for an hour already since her classes ended for the day at 12:30pm, and has a busy day planned. She’s hoping to grab a full meal somewhere close by and bring it back to where she was working with her group partners on her assignment. She usually chooses to eat food from the food cars from Jade Garden, but she doesn’t want to wait for the car to rotate to her location or spend the time to constantly check WeChat for location updates - she wants to eat now.

Amy remembers her friends mentioning a new website that lists the constant locations of all food trucks and food delivery cars on campus. She opens it and notices the language options. She chooses to read the website in Mandarin. Amy sees that there are 8 cars selling on campus at the moment. She also sees how long each car will be in their current location, and where / when they will rotate to. She notices the Palace Restaurant car will be outside gates in 10 minutes. Though she hasn’t ordered from them before, she checks their menu on and is confident they have a few dishes she likes.

Ten minutes later, she leaves her group in gates and walks out to meet the newly parked car. She is first in line and quickly orders one of the dishes she saw on their online menu. She pays in cash and makes it back inside in 5 minutes.

The meal is the food she likes and is used to, and she is grateful to have only spent 10 minutes away from her group. From then on, Amy always uses when she is in a hurry and relies on it to find food fastest. She shares it with her friends, and they find it useful as well.


by Michael Becker

It’s 11:50 AM, and Rahul is leaving his morning class in the Gates-Hillman Complex, unsure where to go next. He has an hour break before class resumes again at 1:30 PM, so he wants to get food during this time to maintain energy for his afternoon classes. he’s leaning towards a food truck but isn’t sure what’s available in terms of his options..

Rahul visits and sees all the open mobile vendors selling food around CMU’s campus. He sees that India on Wheels, The Open Flame, and Joe’s Hot Dog stand are open, and that India on Wheels is serving his favorite dish, the curry platter, for a special price today. He doesn’t mind having to walk to margaret morrison street now that he knows he can will the perfect meal option at a good price when he gets there. He quickly orders his meal, and is on his way back to the Gates-Hillman Complex before his next class. Since he didn’t have to waste any time looking around for food physically, he has over ½ an hour to enjoy his meal.

It’s one of the best lunches Rahul has ever had on a school day. He leaves a five star review on the food truck’s website and tells all his friends how quick, convenient, and delicious his experience was when he returns back to class at 1:30.


by Julie Choi

Matthew had just ended his long morning studio class at 12:20 PM. Since his design peers have are in the same studio class, he usually eats lunch with his table mates.

One of his peers remind the group that they all have their next class at 1:00 PM which means that they only have 40 minutes to get food and eat. As upperclassmen, they do not prefer campus meals because they think it is overpriced compared to the quality of the food. For the time being, they want food that is close to their studio which is located in Margaret Morrison building. They are also worried about the availability of menus because off campus food is popular amongst both students and faculties.

Matthew pulls his phone out to find a solution to this confusion and uncertainty. He sees that Joe’s Hotdog stand still has their favorite menus and is only a minute walk from their building. His peers and he decided that if they choose to get lunch at Joe’s Hotdog stand, they will easily make it to their next class.

When they arrive at the stand, Jake Dwight, the owner of the hotdog stand, greets them with a big smile with friendly greeting such as “Hey, boys! Welcome back.” Matthew and his peers did not know that Jake knew who they were, but they are satisfied with a happy greeting from Jake. Jake does a great job in memorizing their orders and keeping light conversations with the boys. Matthew and his peers happily make it to their class at 1:00 PM on time.


by Selena Zhen

It is 6am. Rohan is the owner of India on Wheels, and works as the cook and server on the truck every day, along with his wife, Anika. India on Wheels serves mainly CMU students and is located on Margaret Morrison Street. Though they are generally happy with the truck, Rohan and Anika notice after winter break that business is dwindling, particularly around the winter months.

Rohan has overheard about from a regular customer who he recognizes. He asked more about it and now decides to create a profile for India on Wheels. On the website, he enters the description of the service, business hours, standard menu, special menu items, and popular items. He found the process extremely easy.

Every day going forward, Rohan spends a few minutes before the truck opens in the morning, to update the menu with the day’s specials. With , if the weather is especially bad, he can easily change the status of the truck to ‘closed’ or even adjust special meal prices to entice customers to come purchase food.

Hearing about and starting India on Wheel’s profile was the best new step for his business in years. Word continues to spread about India on Wheels and, aided by its high rating on the website, reinvigorates Rohan and Anika’s business and passion in cooking.

3a. Responsive Web App (Desktop)

3b. Responsive Web App (Mobile)

Made with HTML, CSS, & little bit of magic (called Handlebars.js) 😊

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