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Campus robocop

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As a traffic enforcement officer for the University of Montana, Audrey Kramer-Jorgensen went pretty much unnoticed by most students. For nearly 20 months Kramer-Jorgensen spent the bulk of her workday driving around in a gas guzzling UM Facility Services van, roaming the campus looking for illegally parked cars.

Unless she was writing you a ticket, you probably wouldn’t have paid much attention.

But that all changed about three weeks ago when the campus parking cop traded in her van for a state-of-the-art and eyepoppingly-cool Segway Personal Transporter.

“I went from nobody wanting my job to everyone wanting my job,” Kramer-Jorgensen says as she effortlessly rolls back and forth on the sleek red-and-black two-wheeled marvel.

Instead of jumping in and out of a van all day, Kramer-Jorgensen now cruises around on a self-balancing electric transportation device that resembles a scooter, but with side-by-side wheels. To get it to move she simply leans forward, and a small throttle-like device on the left handlebar controls the steering.

“Before I started riding around on this I’d generally drive around in a van, park it, and get out and check the cars,” says Kramer-Jorgensen. “With this thing I can ride right between the cars.”

According to Bob Duringer, UM’s vice president of administration and finance, the addition of a Segway to Facility Service’s fleet is a small part of the university’s increased focus on sustainability.

“It’s sustainable as hell,” Duringer boasts. “It’s user-friendly, economical and it doesn’t pollute.”

Duringer says the $5,000 Segway gets the equivalent of 400 miles per gallon, and UM plans to add two more to its fleet before the end of the semester.

In the meantime, Kramer-Jorgensen likes the new attention she’s getting around campus.

“I get a lot of looks,” says the formerly unpopular traffic cop. “I think it’s pretty good PR for us.”

The downside: she’s more efficient at writing traffic tickets. The upside: she’s more likely to be smiling when she writes them.

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