CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Professors at the U of I are using a bus to connect kids with hip-hop culture.

It is called the Double Dutch Boom Bus. It will soon be taking to the roads to teach kids in Champaign-Urbana about music.

“How can we use hip-hop to engage young people today,” said William Patterson, UI Associate Professor of Fine & Applied Arts and Engineering. That is a question Patterson has been working on answering for 10 years and he may finally have the answer…on wheels.

“I said ‘Let’s take the experience, the legacy of the black music experience to talk about engineering technology. Basically STEM and how can we use hip-hop to engage young people?'” As a Fine & Applied Arts professor, merging education and the arts is Patterson’s specialty. From his desire to help kids in the community came–what Patterson calls– his hip-hop express projects.

Engineering students are in the process of turning a double dutch bus into the Double Dutch Boom Bus. “We’ll have a full recording studio on here in terms of being able to utilize that and teach music lessons.” Eventually, solar panels will be put on the top, so when they’re using it while it’s parked, the engine won’t have to be running. He said the bus will go to areas where there has been gun violence and community struggles.

Adam Kruse, a UI Assistant Professor of Music Education, said he knows how important it is that this bus reaches kids in struggling areas. “Kids who associate with hip-hop culture are often marginalized kids and kids whose genius isn’t always recognized by their schools or other institutions around them.” It is showing kids that someone is on their side, that Kruse says can make all the difference. “It’s letting them know that they are part of that legacy and that what they are and who they are is important…and this is a celebration of that.”

The bus will likely roll out this summer. The plan is to park it at different events as well as in certain neighborhoods regularly. They are also working with different mentoring groups to involve students.

African American Studies professor, Dr. Malaika McKee, said this hip hop bus project is all thanks to university leadership like Chancellor Robert Jones and President Timothy Killeen who really took a chance by allowing the bus to be created and supporting the idea. McKee said this is the kind of work that meaningfully connects the university with the community.