Engineering design students at Hayes High School have been interviewing and designing devices for people with specific needs as part of their culminating class project.
Engineering teacher Andrew Borzok said his class is focused on two questions: How can I get other people to see my ideas? How can I use my ideas to help others?
“Each group of three to four students has an actual real person they are trying to help,” Borzok said. “They had to interview the person to identify what need they could fill and design and produce an assistive device that would fill that need.”
Borzok said the needs of the individuals range from needing a device to help with their job to a device to help them alert medical staff when they have a seizure to a device for a dog.
“It’s a wide, wide range of things,” Borzok said. “It gives them a real world problem that they are solving for a real person, and in the process, they are getting to use all the skills they’ve learned in the course for something that’s really going to help someone.”
Borzok said his students are also learning team skills and learning how to come up with ideas and how to improve them.
Ethan Hazelton, a junior, is working on a jig for an individual who works in a factory but only has one functional hand and can’t properly assemble their work. Hazelton said he spoke with the client and her boss, and he took suggestions and feedback on the design.
“I’ve learned problem-solving in general,” Hazelton said. “It takes a lot of work to decide what’s best for people and figuring out what will solve the problem best. And there’s a lot of issues with certain ideas that you just don’t think of by yourself, that’s why it’s important to have feedback from other people and have a team of people to help you.”
Eric Puthoff, also a junior, said he is working for a man who has seizures and usually tries to inform his care workers by banging on his headboard when he feels one coming on, but sometimes they can’t hear. Puthoff said he is building a vibration sensor for the headboard that will flash a light that will be visible to his caretaker.
“I’ve really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of just solving a problem,” Puthoff said. “I’ve learned quite a bit; how to ask questions better about what I need to do and get more information about what I need to do and about what my limitations will be. I just learned everything has a solution, even if you don’t think of it at first.”
Alex Crewe, a senior, and Julie Fausnaugh, a junior, are working on a device for a woman using a plastic bag sealer at a candy factory who only has one functional hand. The pair said their client has to hold down a mechanism with one hand and slide another mechanism with the other, so they devised a foot pedal that will hold down the first mechanism, allowing the client to use her free hand.
“You have to be really open-minded,” Crewe said. “Some ideas work and some don’t.”
Fausnaugh said she likes building things and has learned a lot about different systems. The pair said they’ve enjoyed working to help Megan, their client.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.