Mechanical engineering seniors have won third place in a national engineering design competition in Washington, D.C., in which students improve the working environments of people with disabilities.
Students developed the design, part of the mechanical engineering “Designing to Make a Difference” senior capstone course created by Robe Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering Greg Kremer, for Parkersburg, West Virginia, non-profit SW Resources.
“The SourceAmerica Design Challenge motto, ‘designing technology so everyone can work,’ fits perfectly with the ‘Designing to Make a Difference’ theme of our capstone design projects,” said Kremer. “Our long-term partnership with SW Resources has provided rich learning opportunities for our students, and has opened up many job opportunities for SW Resources employees who need some assistive technology to allow them work.”
The OU Bagging Solutions team, comprising seniors Brian Bednar, Ryan Ertel, Caitlin Finnearty and Katie Ludden, developed a device that enables SW Resources employees who have limited dexterity or cognitive abilities to more easily open and close re-sealable zipper bags.
For making it to the final round, Kremer, Ertel and Finnearty were able to travel all expenses paid to Washington, D.C., along with Production Manager Robin Graham and Subject Matter Expert Janice Kaneff from SW Resources. There, the group met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill prior to presenting their device to competition judges.
“SW Resources has worked with Ohio University students over the last 12 years, and each year the group has changed the lives of individuals we serve,” said Graham. “On behalf of SW Resources, I would sincerely like to thank SourceAmerica for this experience, not only for the non-profits, but also for the students.”
Each student, coach and subject matter expert on the team received $525 in addition to their travel costs. The Russ College and SW Resources also received a $1,000 to fund future projects. Mechanical engineering students have won more than $100,000 in prize monies from design competitions over the last decade.