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EndTheRain seeks to improve the 'second dreariest city'

EndTheRain, an organization founded by Carnegie Mellon senior Ben Kaplan, is focused on finding inventive solutions to the bevy of weather issues plaguing Carnegie Mellon students, most prominently Pittsburgh’s unpredictable weather and reputation as the “second dreariest city in the country.” Those very same weather issues deeply impacted Kaplan as well, who came up with the idea for EndTheRain with his roommate soon after they were caught off-guard one day and drenched by the rain.

Kaplan, the president and founder of the EndTheRain organization, had hardly planned on creating such an innovative organization when he arrived at Carnegie Mellon. Based on his research, many students are unprepared for downpours due to an unwillingness to carry around their umbrellas everywhere just in case they need them. EndTheRain seeks to remedy these issues through a variety of projects, the first of which is the Plaid Umbrella Project. This project involves setting up free umbrella dispensers at convenient locations on campus, so that students can pick up umbrellas whenever they need them.

Currently, EndTheRain has been testing the viability of the project by placing two garbage cans containing 12 umbrellas each at Doherty and Warner Hall; however, Kaplan has much more ambitious goals for the project. He would like to ultimately set up five to ten dispensers on campus before April, based on heat maps tracking students’ traffic patterns and other, similar research. With this information, EndTheRain hopes to place dispensers at locations convenient for every Carnegie Mellon student.

Additionally, EndTheRain is working on developing and designing more complicated automated umbrella dispensers requiring students to swipe their ID card to pick up an umbrella. Currently, Kaplan has reported that most students have indeed returned their umbrellas the next day as requested by the signs above each umbrella dispenser. That said, EndTheRain is working on acquiring these automated dispensers to reduce theft and abuse of the system. Currently, Kaplan estimates that each umbrella will cost about $5 when purchased in bulk and that each dispenser will cost about $500.

Members of EndTheRain have already made headway on procuring funding for umbrellas and umbrella dispensers, as well as on promoting the organization. You may have seen EndTheRain posters around campus proposing the construction of a dome around Carnegie Mellon to stop the rain from terrorizing students. Of course, these posters, as well as the name of the organization itself, humorously exaggerate EndTheRain’s ambitions, but Kaplan has reported that this method of promoting his organization has been quite successful at intriguing students and initiating conversations about EndTheRain.

Many students have already reached out to him to learn more about EndTheRain after seeing these posters. In terms of sponsorships and funding, EndTheRain has already reached out to Google, and plans to contact Amazon, Microsoft, Uber, and Facebook, as well as Carnegie Mellon alumni. EndTheRain has also applied to become a recognized student organization; if its application is approved, this would allow it to receive funding from the Joint Funding Committee, the Student Government committee responsible for fairly distributing the money acquired through students’ activity fees to Carnegie Mellon’s many student organizations. Lastly, EndTheRain plans to compete in the annual UPLift Challenge, which challenges students to come up with innovative ideas to improve common areas on campus. Winners of this challenge receive funding from the university.

EndTheRain is currently composed of ten Carnegie Mellon students including the aforementioned President Ben Kaplan and Vice President Rajat Mehndiratta. Even so, EndTheRain is always seeking new members to provide assistance on all its lofty projects.

“Our team consists of ten CMU students. We need all the help we can get and our current team members are actively developing and designing our automated dispensers, seeking funding for the project, and solving logistical problems like where to install the dispensers and how to deal with load balancing of the system,” says Kaplan.