Engineering Students Participate in Client-Connected Projects

Engineering Students Participate in Client-Connected Projects
Shawnee Mission School District

The engineering skills of a group of Signature Program students are making a big difference for a Pawnee Elementary student preparing for middle school.

Addison Bien, SM North senior, and Alyssa Jimenez, SM East senior, are working with the school district on a tactile map of Westridge Middle School for a student with visual impairment. They recently brought their preliminary prototypes to Pawnee Elementary school to get feedback from their client, Eddie, a sixth-grade student who will be attending Westridge next year. Erin Meyer, orientation and movement specialist, and Christy Keller, Brailliest also provided feedback on the project.

“I have not seen many tactile maps in Pre-K-12 school districts, they are more often found on college campuses,” Meyer noted. “This is very exciting for our school district.”

The engineering team brought three prototypes for Eddie to try and test. Each was made of a different material including cardboard, Mosonite (hardboard), and birchwood and were different weights and heights. The material is important as the map needs to be portable since Eddie will carry the map with him. The purpose of the initial test was to determine the success or failure of the system’s user-friendliness to Eddie.

The engineering students designed the maps using Autodesk software and used a 3-D laser Engraver to create each model in their class at the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA).

“I think it is really neat to have three choices,” Keller said.

The team discussed how to best represent room numbers and the suggestion was made to use different material textures to denote restrooms, exits, and stairs such as burlap, foam, or fabric. They also discussed contrasting colors for the base and model.

“I like how I can tell where the doorways are,” Eddie remarked. “Separate the upper and lower floors, add Braille and ‘Bam’ it’s done.” 

This is just one example of the kinds of projects client-connected Engineering Design and Development (EDD) Signature Program students are engaged in this semester.

One team designed a flexible paint cart for a local sign company. Another team is helping a tee shirt company with a better design for cleaning their ink squeegees. 

This is Real World Learning where our students are providing authentic solutions to their client,Greg Thiel, engineer instructor shared.

“Our projects are so much more meaningful when the students can design, present, and implement a solution for a real client with a real problem,” he added. 

Thiel believes school district projects are a win-win and invites staff to submit ideas where engineering students may be able to provide a design solution for the classroom, on the field, or on the school campus.