West Tennessee Healthcare Therapy and Learning Center, 3D Printing Camp and Union University are three community partners who worked together to present “A Make: A Challenge” that was held on Union’s campus last Friday.
Four teams spent the last six months preparing to make someone else’s life a little easier and a little more enjoyable.
Georg Pingen, an engineering professor at Union University and his wife Betsy, started a make-out outreach program that allows students to expand their skills of learning about engineering in a fun way.
Pingen received his Bachelor’s degree from Washington and Samford University. He continued his educational journey receiving his Master’s from Washington University and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.
Students from Grades 4-11 combine engineering skills and 3D printing to create meaningful projects for those with disabilities who may not otherwise be able to enjoy a certain activity.
“The Make-able Challenge is an assistive technology design challenge,” said Pingen. “It is sponsored by PrintLab in England. The student teams are partnered with community organizations to design projects that will help people live a normal life as much as possible.”
This year, there were four teams that consisted of 16 total students who spent the last six months developing and testing different phases of products that could add a little more sunshine to someone else’s life.
The first team, Team Addy, created a state-of-the-art bubble blower for a little girl who had cerebral palsy. When the team met the little girl, she realized she liked many things but was limited to enjoy them because of her fine motor skills. Out of all the things she liked, she really enjoyed bubbles. Team Addy was hard at work testing their creations to make sure the little girl was able to blow bubbles by herself.
The second team, Team Emory, created a functioning hand piece that would allow a little boy who was born with no fingers to be able to grip objects. This hand piece would easily slip on the little boy’s hand while giving him independence to feed himself or just play catch with his father. Their creation was inspired by a device known as the Phoenix Hand with mesh.
The third team, Team Dakota, created a fishing reel that would allow a patient to spend endless hours fishing with cerebral palsy. Their patient had a hard time poking while reeling in the fish. Their creation had an extension on the pole that allowed the handle bar to grasp its fishing rod.
The fourth team designed a device they called the Toad for a little girl who also had cerebral palsy. This little enjoys listening to music but can’t control her playlists. The control Frog Button system allows it to push a button that connects to a speaker communicating with Alexa.
Each team worked hard to make the impossible and sometimes frustrating task a makeable and enjoyable one for those patients with cerebral palsy. Anyone interested in participating in activities like the Make: able challenge in the future or any summer camps at Union University can visit the website at uu.edu. Regular updates about upcoming activities / events can be found on the Engineering website or the Union University Facebook Page. The department is tentatively planning for a second round of Make: Able Challenge in November.
Katrina Smith is an education reporter for The Jackson Sun. Send those story ideas to [email protected]