An intern from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington played an unexpected and important role in the groundbreaking decision by the City of Indianapolis to phase out gasoline and diesel vehicles.
The city hopes to have its entire fleet of cars and trucks running on a mix of electricity and natural gas by 2025. The policy, announced in December, is aimed at helping Indianapolis save on the cost of fuel while sending a powerful political message about the need to reduce U.S. dependence on oil.
“I just thought it was important for somebody to stand up and say, we have to change this policy, and I’m going to try to force the issue, frankly,” Mayor Greg Ballard told the Wall Street Journal.
In making the decision, Ballard was armed with research by intern Amy O’Shea. She worked in the summer of 2012 in the city’s Office of Enterprise Development (OED).
Weeks before the announcement, Mayor Ballard was talking about the alternative fuels plan with OED director David Rosenberg. O’Shea heard the conversation and immediately offered to do a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal. The mayor accepted the offer and weighed her analysis before going ahead.
“By moving to electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, we'll be saving taxpayers about $12,000 per vehicle over the 10-year life cycle of each car,” Ballard said.
O’Shea gained insight from her SPEA connections. She consulted a report on plug-in electric vehicles authored by SPEA Dean John D. Graham and SPEA faculty member Sanya Carley. O’Shea also consulted SPEA alumni and an Indiana company that specializes in EVs as she completed her project for the mayor.
“She took a key role and she didn’t disappoint,” Rosenberg said. “She had all the skills of someone in the position for a number of years. She completed every project at a very high level to the point that the mayor asked her to do some research specifically for him.”
After graduating in December, 2012, with an MPA and MSES, O’Shea is now using her education and experience as an intern in her professional career. She is an associate at the international advisory and audit firm Grant Thornton and is based in Alexandria, VA.