Make a Difference Engineering pitches projects for local children

An on-campus engineering organization proposes designs to help disabled children.

On Friday afternoons, dozens of Engineers and STEM majors from various disciplines pour into Stephenson Hall, ready to work on projects for as long as they need to be completed. Both a course for credit and a student organization on campus, Make a Difference Engineering (MADE) strives to educate engineers and other students at the University of Tulsa on project management. They accomplish this by designing, building and delivering products that will help others.

All it takes to get a project off the ground is to pitch the project to the engineering department with a goal in mind, brainstorm ways to craft the product, communicate with the customer, design with a team and deliver to the customer.

On Sept. 4, the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences hosted their project night where customers pitched new ideas for MADE and students introduced projects that are currently being built to new students who aspire to join a team. In attendance were representatives from Kendall-Whittier Elementary School and The Little Lighthouse, who helps children with special needs, two of MADE’s biggest customers.

The representative from Kendall-Whittier Elementary School pitched various ideas for future projects at MADE, including a climbing wall in their sensory room, ball runs and a pendulum wave as well as many others. Following her, the representative from The Little Lighthouse pitched a child-sized pin art panel with colored pegs, a power standing frame to help children stand and a large light bright. With the use of various colors and lights, children’s visual senses will grow and improve.

With multiple new ideas for the future on the table, team leaders then followed to address progress on their current projects, some of which they hope to deliver this fall.

Chris Montgomery, the leader of the “activity boards” project, aims to deliver a new board to their customer by the end of the semester. The activity boards are meant to assist in sensory activation and improve motor skills by working with day-to-day senses. For example, by including string on the activity board that has to be tied, the children using it may be able to associate those skills with tying their shoes.

Bryce Day leads the “sit n’ scoot” project which aspires to help children with mobility issues who use wheelchairs be closer to the ground so they can play with other children.

Ryan Dondalski explains that the “music makes smiles” project he leads will create a positive feedback loop in children to assist them with motion dexterity. Utilizing a conglomeration of PVC pipes that will resonate sounds when hit like a percussion instrument, the team plans to encourage children to associate the music playing with success and intends that they will continue the action. This repeated action will thereby help build their dexterity over time.

There is even a repair team led by Julia Bradley that will take in older projects that have already been sent out to customers, but have broken recently. It will give team members experience with projects covering all areas of Engineering and STEM.

Molly Hummel got the idea for her project “move n’ groove,” which will help muscle development, from her cousin with cerebral palsy. Her cousin loves to dance, and Hummel wanted to create something that could help her achieve this dream.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Hummel said when asked about her favorite thing regarding MADE. “Anyone who we help gets something for free that is custom made for them, and the students who helped to make it get experience and something for their resume.”

In addition to these projects, MADE has many other works in progress that should help just as many people. Some teams are still taking members who can be pursuing any major within the University of Tulsa. For those interested, MADE meets every Friday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Post Author: Myranda New