Lawrence Technological University sophomore engineering students once again spent the fall semester designing products to help developmentally disabled people improve their lives.
Students worked with the Dearborn-based Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), which finds and manages job placements for the disabled, and ConnectUs, a Livonia-based nonprofit that provides quality programming for individuals with severe multiple disabilities.
The students are part of a course, EGE 2123, Entrepreneurial Engineering Design Studio, that is required in most LTU engineering programs. Students meet with the nonprofit agencies and their clients, witness, first-hand, the clients’ challenges, and design and build physical products to help solve those challenges.
"Creating a product for a real person - and in particular, a person with a disability - and seeing directly the impact that they can have on that person's life, really resonates with the students,” said Heidi Morano, director of LTU’s Studio for Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (SEED), who teaches the course with Susan Henson, SEED project engineer. “We often have former students return to the studio to ask if their STEP client is still using their product. The empathy that the students develop for their customer really shows."
This week, the students presented their products in open houses to LTU faculty, staff, and students, as well as working professionals in engineering and related fields. Those who attended cast votes to name first- and second-place teams in both sections of the EGE 2123 course.
Winners in the afternoon class that worked with STEP were:
Winners in the evening class that worked with ConnectUs were