Transportation Policy Alum Chris Stockwell Innovates with Bird Shared Scooter Company

Chris Stockwell, who graduated in 2017 with a master's degree in Transportation Policy, Operations and Logistics, said the program allowed him to study what was most meaningful to him. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

Just one year after earning his master’s degree from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, Chris Stockwell, MA Transportation Policy, Operations and Logistics ’17, is flying high as senior manager of partnerships at Bird—the shared scooter company that’s been making waves in headlines across the nation.

Unlock these scooters with your smartphone, and you’re off. It couldn’t get much easier—and that’s the goal.

“Once you’re able to have more free-flowing transportation options, it opens up the city as more of a community,” said Stockwell.

It’s a powerful idea he arrived at during his time at Mason. Stockwell credits Mason’s transportation program as being structured, yet flexible enough that he could study exactly what was meaningful to him.

“I always focused [my studies] more on the alternative transportation side, and the first mile/last mile challenge was a problem we were always trying to solve,” he said. “[Micro-transportation like electric vehicle sharing] has provided one solution to go that extra mile to get to a bus station or a metro stop, or get to your place of residence, to work, or to school…. I can honestly say I’m helping solve the first mile/last mile challenge.”

Stockwell isn’t the only one who thinks so.

Jonathan Gifford, one of Stockwell’s influential professors at Mason, acknowledged there’s a huge tide of innovation happening in transportation today that could produce important social outcomes and enhance mobility. He feels Stockwell’s work at Bird is part of that.

“The challenge is absorbing and adapting to this tide of innovation, and integrating it with our existing legacy infrastructure, policies, financing and delivery,” Gifford said.

Stockwell took a deep dive into how to make this integration and innovation happen during his class practicum, in which he worked with a team to analyze and research how to create a better-connected city for travelers and businesses in Arlington County, Virginia.

“The TPOL program is very practical,” said Stockwell. “It has a lot of real-world examples and experiences. Being in [Washington,] D.C., and Arlington certainly help, too…. The infrastructure and Arlington and D.C.’s ability to forward-think in the transportation world makes it a great environment to be in when you’re studying this ever-evolving topic of mobility.”