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MiCareerQuest Southeast nearly sold out as more than 9,000 students registered for inaugural event

More than 9,000 high school students from nearly 100 southeast Michigan schools have registered for MiCareerQuest Southeast, the region’s largest-ever career exploration event, which takes place November 28.

The huge response has shattered event organizer expectations, who anticipate the 10,000-student limit will be reached much sooner than planned. Once the limit is reached, schools will be placed on a waiting list, as each school’s registration numbers and arrival schedule are confirmed in early October.

“The strong response to MiCareerQuest Southeast is very exciting,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “I think everyone recognizes this is not your typical job fair, and they want their students to be part of it. We’re connecting working professionals eager to demonstrate what they do on the job with young people who want to learn as much as they can about the career opportunities before them. We have room for less than 1,000 more students. If your school has not registered yet, do it now. I would hate for an interested student to miss out on this singular event.”

High schools interested in registering should visit OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE. The school registration period will close on October 1, or when all the available student slots are filled.

Event organizers started communicating with public and private schools in February. Notices were sent to all public high schools by the Intermediate School Districts in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston and Monroe counties.

More than 90 companies, trade associations, labor organizations, universities, community colleges and vocational schools are participating in the event, with new ones committing each day. They are preparing hands-on, interactive demonstrations to showcase the skills and education needed to compete for today’s most in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences and information technology. The event will feature a minimum of 20 occupations in each of the four career quadrants. The current list of participating exhibitors can be found at OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE.

“Our exhibitors are putting a lot of thought and energy into this event so they can grab the attention and imaginations of students, many of whom are considering their career options for the first time,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, Oakland County manager of workforce development and one of the lead planners of MiCareerQuest Southeast. “Our ultimate goal is to feed the long-term talent pipeline in southeast Michigan, a challenge shared by virtually all of our employers.”

MiCareerQuest Southeast is being organized by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and Michigan Works! The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is presenting sponsor. Platinum sponsors include Beaumont Health (health sciences quadrant) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (advanced manufacturing quadrant). In addition, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council and MUST (Management and Unions Serving Together) have joined together for the platinum sponsorship in the construction quadrant.

Event organizers are still seeking a platinum sponsor for the information technology quadrant. Additional major sponsors include Oakland Community College and Automation Alley. There also are more than 20 smaller sponsors, representing their respective career quadrants. The full list of sponsors is available at the event website. Organizations interested in a sponsorship should contact Beth Tomaszewski at tomaszewskie@oakgov.com.

Lawrence Tech President's Symposium to cover future of transportation, self-driving cars

Excerpt: 

Communities and society are profoundly affected by how efficiently, effectively, and safely people and goods move. But what are the proper roles of society and industry in designing future transportation systems?

In the 2018 installment of the President’s Symposium Series at Lawrence Technological University on Thursday, Oct. 11, a panel of experts will discuss those roles, and explore the full-scale implementation of autonomous and advanced driver-assist technologies.

Read more.

Lawrence Tech President's Symposium to cover future of transportation, self-driving cars

Communities and society are profoundly affected by how efficiently, effectively, and safely people and goods move. But what are the proper roles of society and industry in designing future transportation systems?

In the 2018 installment of the President’s Symposium Series at Lawrence Technological University on Thursday, Oct. 11, a panel of experts will discuss those roles, and explore the full-scale implementation of autonomous and advanced driver-assist technologies.

The event is titled “Accessibility, Mobility, and Connectivity: The Edge of Future Transportation Systems.” Moderating the panel discussion will be Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle, PE, a 1987 Lawrence Tech engineering alumnus, who recently announced his retirement after 31 years with the state agency. Panelists for the event are to include:

  • Carla Bailo, president and CEO, Center for Automotive Research, a non-profit organization in Ann Arbor that conducts research and analysis to educate and advise stakeholders, policy makers, and the general public on critical issues facing the auto industry, and the industry's impact on the U.S. economy and society.
  • Soraya Kim, chief innovation officer, American Center for Mobility, a non-profit testing and product development center for connected and automated vehicle technology, located on the former Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township.
  • Alisyn Malek, chief operating officer and co-founder, May Mobility Inc., an Ann Arbor-based  developer of autonomous vehicles, funded by BMW and Toyota, among others.
  • Douglas Patton, senior technical advisor, DENSO International America Inc., the Southfield-based U.S. headquarters of the Japanese auto supplier.
  • Jeremy Tuggle, engineering manager, systems engineering and testing, Continental Corp., Auburn Hills, the U.S. headquarters of the German auto supplier Continental AG.

The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m. The venue is the Mary E. Marburger Auditorium, Room S100, Science Building, LTU, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road, Southfield, MI, 48075 (see www.ltu.edu/map). The event is sponsored by LTU’s College of Engineering.

“This event will feature people who are at the top of their field, discussing state-of-the-art technology in mobility,” said Nabil Grace, dean of the College of Engineering at Lawrence Tech. “These technologies, in transportation and infrastructure, represent the future of Michigan. Students and young people in particular should be interested in this program, because these are the technologies they will be working on in their future careers.”

LTU’s President’s Symposium is an annual presentation series created by Virinder Moudgil, the university’s president since 2012, focusing on technology and its applications to improve the quality of life.

The President’s Symposium is free and open to the public. For further information, contact Tamara Botzen, administrative assistant, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering, at tbotzen@ltu.edu or (248) 204-2500.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


LTU Self-driving champs

Lawrence Technological University has once again established itself as a leader in the field of autonomous vehicles.

The Southfield-based university won the Self-Drive Challenge contest at the 26th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), which was held June 1 through 4 at Oakland University in Rochester. It’s the second year in a row that LTU has won the contest.

The team of LTU students created ACTor, or Autonomous Campus Transport/Taxi, a self-driving campus shuttle bus. The vehicle was judged on a range of tasks, including lane-following and -changing, obstacle avoidance, reading traffic signs, detecting potholes and avoiding them, and more.

C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU and the winning team leader, says that contests like the IGVC both prepares students for the workforce while simultaneously advancing the fields of technology. Students are solving real-world problems while applying lessons learned.

“Driving at night, or in the fog--there are so many unknown environments that self-driving cars can be driving in,” Chung says.

“To be a real product, reliability needs to be 100 percent.”

The contest allowed companies the ability to get a sneak peek of what’s coming down the talent pipeline. It’s a talented future workforce, says Chung, and one upon which the industry relies.

Since winning the competition, students are now reprogramming ACTor to serve as an actual autonomous taxi on the LTU campus.

LTU’s competitors in the contest included University, the University of Detroit Mercy, the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, and New York University. The winning team received $3,000 and a plaque.

“Detroit is the automotive hub. We should work hard to be the leader in this industry of self-driving vehicles, as well,” says Chung.

“Universities need to provide a talented workforce in order to do that.”

Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

Rochester's Oakland University to turn bed and breakfast into living learning community

Excerpt

The former Cobblestone Manor Bed and Breakfast in Auburn Hills will be leased to Oakland University in Rochester for Honors College students as part of an agreement between the Moceri family and the university, officials announced.

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Lawrence Tech business incubator wins NEI grant, looks toward expansion

The LTU Collaboratory, Lawrence Technological University’s business incubator and accelerator, is planning to expand its business and technology-based mentorship services, workshops, and events. The move is made possible thanks to a one-year $40,000 grant from the New Economy Initiative. It’s the first time NEI has awarded a grant to the Southfield-based university.

Small manufacturers and emerging hardware startups in Southeast Michigan stand to benefit most from the grant. The money will also be used to engage more high schoolers, college students, and young adults in product and manufacturing-related innovation challenges.

"As a leading resource to small and start-up companies developing innovative, engineered products, the LTU Collaboratory can now provide additional key resources for these companies to grow and scale up their operations, thanks to this NEI grant," said Mark Brucki, executive director of community and corporate partnerships at LTU.

"We are looking forward to getting more students involved in manufacturing as well."

It’s another improvement for the LTU Collaboratory. LTU is planning on a new 6,300 sq. ft. accelerator space for its Southfield campus by spring 2019.

NEI Senior Program Officer Maria LaLonde cites Southeast Michigan’s abundance of engineering talent, manufacturing expertise, patent research initiatives, and export activity in praising the deal.

"We are very excited to be partnering with LTU to offer small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs critical resources to keep them on the leading edge of innovation and growth," said LaLonde.

"As a university-based accelerator program, LTU is also a key partner to engage and develop the next generation of design, engineering and manufacturing talent in Michigan."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Cleary University launches project management program in partnership with Automation Alley

Excerpt

Cleary University, a business university with its main campus in Howell, has announced the launch of the Project Management Professionals program, a 35-hour, instructor-led online course.

The program is designed for professionals who are already in project management. Cleary used data insights from Automation Alley, a technology and manufacturing business association in Troy, to help develop the program’s curriculum to be reflective of current employer needs.

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Birmingham team takes home top prize at World Robofest Championship

Almost 100 teams from lands near and far, from Hong Kong to South Africa to the state of Illinois, descended upon the campus of Lawrence Technological University for the annual World Robofest Championship. But it was a team from Birmingham, Michigan’s own Roeper School that took home this year’s top prize.

On Saturday, May 19, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) hosted the 19th annual competition on its campus. The Southfield-based school has been hosting Robofest since C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU, founded the contest in 1999.

Each Robofest pits teams of students against each other as they work to build and program autonomous robots that aren’t remote controlled. Robots then must complete a series of tasks.

This year’s Robofest required the robots to complete the Autonomous Tennis Ball Challenge. Students had to program their robots to collect tennis balls off a table and deposit them in a box, all while knocking water bottles off the table.

Blood, Sweat and Gears, the team from Birmingham’s Roeper School, took home the top prize in the Senior Game division, made up of students from grades nine through twelve.

"Metro Detroit is in the automotive sector. Automotive technology is moving toward self-driving and connected vehicles. All the technologies learned in Robofest are connected to the development of future self-driving and connected vehicles," says Chung.

"This started in metro Detroit and has a strong impact on the world. Our area is leading the technology for the future by training young people first."

In the Junior Game division, made up of fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, Insele Solutions of Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, took home the gold, with teams from Aurora, Illinois, and Goyang, South Korea, as runners-up. Teams from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, and Seoul, South Korea, rounded out the top three in the senior circuit.

More than 23,000 students have participated in the World Robofest Championship since its founding in 1999.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Apprenticeships critical as Oakland County deals with talent shortage in skilled trades

Excerpt

Carlea Johnson, 17, said she fell in love with the sound of a miter saw at 15 years old.

The Pontiac High School junior’s grandfather owned a construction company. She spent a lot of time during her younger years talking about the industry with him. That inspired her to get involved in the skilled trades. Her mom and aunt were also involved in construction.

Johnson is currently enrolled in the Oakland Schools Construction Technology Apprenticeship Program – a partnership between Oakland Schools, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1076 in Pontiac, and the Michigan Laborers’ Training Apprenticeship Institute.

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Earn Personal Trainer Certification through Oakland University PACE program

This summer, Oakland University’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) is partnering with World Instructor Training Schools (W.I.T.S.) to offer a Personal Trainer Certificate Program

“The health and fitness industry is booming, and this growth is expected to continue,” said Amy Olind, assistant director of PACE. “As a result, there are a variety of employment opportunities available for personal trainers holding a legitimate certification, and we are proud to provide the opportunity to achieve this at OU.”

Through the Personal Trainer Certificate Program, students will complete coursework that will prepare them to obtain Certified Personal Trainer – Level 1 status. Individuals with this certification help to improve overall health and fitness of clients ranging in age, health and fitness status through the development and implementation of fitness programs required for practice in the service industry in the United States.

“This program is ideal for those who are passionate about fitness and who are also looking to either change careers or earn some extra money doing what they love,” Olind said.

The cost of the course is $700 for current OU Recreation Center members (students and community), and $800 for non-members. It includes 15 hours of lecture and 15 hours of practical, hands-on training led by Erin Davidson, M.S., OU’s fitness programs and services coordinator, at OU’s on-campus recreation center (a four-month membership to the Rec Center is included in program tuition).

Additionally, included in the program cost is the opportunity for students to complete a comprehensive internship at a local fitness facility.

“W.I.T.S. is a fully accredited organization that provides a rigorous, up-to-date curriculum, and the course includes an extensive hands-on component,” Olind said. “This really caused them to stand out from their competitors, as we felt this experiential learning was a necessary piece of the training required to enter this field.”

After completing the 30-hour program, candidates receive a voucher to register with W.I.T.S. to take the written and practical examinations required to become a CPT – Level 1, and completion of the internship component allows for receipt of CPT – Level 2 status.

According to Olind, the courses will be offered twice a year, with the initial offering beginning in summer 2018 on Mondays and Wednesdays starting July 23 through Aug. 22 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

“This program is open to community members and Oakland students alike, and we look forward to helping health and fitness enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds reach their goals,” Olind said.

To receive updates about registration, sign up on the CPT Course Pre-Registration website. To learn more about the program, visit oakland.edu/pace/health-sciences/personal-trainer or contact PACE at oupace@oakland.edu.

START HERE…FINISH HERE: Oakland University, Oakland Community College team up on digital campaign

It is Oakland University’s brand promise and the inspiration for what is believed to be Michigan’s first cobranded billboard campaign among two higher educational institutions. 
 
As another step in its longstanding partnership, Oakland University and Oakland Community College have teamed up to create the innovative campaign, which includes 12 digital billboards over six weeks primarily located in Oakland County, starting May 21. The two halves of the billboard merge to show student progression from OCC and OU. On the left side are the words, “START HERE” with the OCC logo; “FINISH HERE” and the OU logo are on the right side. 
 
The idea is to encourage prospective students to start their college career at OCC and finish it at OU.
 
“We are very excited to partner with Oakland University on this innovative, fresh and cost-efficient campaign,” said Theodore G. Coutilish, vice chancellor for marketing and community relations, OCC. “We both have excellent faculty, facilities and academic programs that appeal to a wide range of students.”
 
OU and OCC are sharing the campaign cost evenly.
 
“Community colleges are a vital component of higher education in our state,” said John O. Young, Oakland University vice president for communications and marketing. “Encouraging people to start or return to college is very important to our region and we are happy to be a part of this initiative with OCC.”
 
For more information about OU and OCC, visit oakland.edu or oaklandcc.edu, respectively. 
 
About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences allowing each student to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve.  More than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

About Oakland University
 Oakland University is a doctoral, research university located on 1,443 acres of scenic land in the cities of Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills in Oakland County, Michigan. The University has 140 bachelor's degree programs and 137 graduate degree and certificate programs. Oakland is a nationally recognized public university with more than 19,000 students. Academics include the School of Music, Theatre and Dance and nearly 100 other majors housed within the College of Arts and Sciences as well as an Honors College and professional schools that include the School of Business Administration, School of Education and Human Services, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Sciences, School of Nursing and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

Entrepreneurial competition rewards idea generation

Equipped with just three slides and four minutes, the five finalists of a school-wide business idea pitch competition, sponsored by OU’s School of Business Administration, presented their ideas to a panel of experienced entrepreneurial-minded professionals for the chance to win cash awards.  

Open to all OU students, the competition invited participants to submit a proposal detailing an idea for a product, service or social enterprise that would benefit the Oakland University community. From the 25 submitted proposals, judges selected five finalists who then took part in pitch development workshop to help them prepare for the last phase of the competition. 

“Hats off to the students because they had some pretty complex concepts they had to explain in a very short time,” says Gregory Doyle, manager at Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center, who served as one of the judges. Ray Gunn, MGT ‘80, president, Schechter Wealth, and Jim Roberts, CEO, Jim Roberts Enterprises, also served as judges. 

Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and competition coordinator Jae Kang, Ph.D., points out that “unlike other business plan competitions, the focus of this competition was idea generation. Unfortunately, many business plans go to the trash can because they start from ill-defined ideas, or uncreative ideas. This event is designed to help the student with the initial idea.” 

Whether launching a startup or entering an established company, the problem identification and solution process is a valuable skill for any business-minded professional. 

“Developing a business idea helps you think outside of the box,” says Samantha Roberts, MKT ‘18, the $1,000 silver winner. “You have to think of potential issues and resolve them before anyone even asked. This competition helped me to be able to fully analyze a situation and come up with solutions.” Roberts’ pitch proposed PodU, a podcast-based app to connect students to lectures and class materials. 

“It was one of my best experiences at Oakland, I’ve become famous,” says Fawaz Alkhudhayr, engineering junior, who took home the $2,000 gold award. Alkhudhayr’s proposal aimed to add diverse food options on campus by introducing a middle eastern food, snack and juice truck. 

“I’m interested in taking any chance that comes my way,” says Alkhudhayr. “When you get email from your University, don’t ignore it. You should take a look, think about it. You don’t always know where your success will come from.” 

Patrick Adamus, marketing junior, captured the $500 bronze award for his idea to create an Oakland Network app, which would include sections on parking availability, professor ratings, discussion boards and petitions. 

Judges were impressed by the imagination and work that went into all the submissions and presentations by the finalists. 

“As judges, we really focused on how well thought out the idea was, the clarity of the presentation and the feasibility and approach to solve the stated problem,” says Gunn. “Alkhudhayr stood out because of his relentless passion for his idea combined with his ability to identify and address a real problem: the need for variety in food options on campus.” 

“There’s an awful lot of talent at Oakland University and I’m sure I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” says Doyle. “There were some brilliant students and I’m looking forward to next year’s competition. It was just a great experience for everybody who participated.”

High score: Lawrence Tech ranks in the top 50 for game design programs for third straight year

Video game fans take note: Lawrence Technological University's game design program has now ranked in the Top 50 of undergraduate schools for game design for the third straight year. The Princeton Review, in a reporting partnership with the PC Gamer magazine, publishes the rankings.

LTU comes in at number 34 among schools to study game design in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

According to officials from the Southfield-based private university, LTU's program is different than most because of its focus on both art and design. Lawrence Tech offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Game Software Development concentration.

"It is an honor being ranked among the best undergraduate programs in the world," Marshall "Mars" Ashton, assistant professor in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design and director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art program at the university, said in a statement. "Despite how young both the Game Art and Game Software Development programs are, we have seen an incredible amount of progress as we contribute to the field at large and the development of the Michigan game development community."

The Princeton Review created a 40-question survey to determine the rankings of 150 programs based on academic offerings, lab facilities, and more. Also taken into account are alumni achievements, like graduates' starting salaries and career achievements. They then generated and analyzed over 40 data points in academics, faculty, technology, and careers to create the rankings.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Oakland University, Baker College partner for physical therapy workshop

With a focus on promoting a community-based approach to health education, students and leaders in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Oakland University and the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Baker College of Auburn Hills came together in OU’s Human Health Building to talk with individuals who have neurological impairments. 
 
The intra-professional workshop marked the first such collaboration between the two schools, according to Visiting Instructor of Physical Therapy, Jacqueline Scully, who helped coordinate the event for Oakland, along with Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Deb Doherty.
 
“Healthcare is so much of a team effort now, whereas 25 years ago, we kind of worked in our own little silos,” Scully said. “We have to start getting students used to working with each other now so they’ll be ready for that when they get into the workforce.”
 
She added that the experience can also dispel misconceptions students may have about what it’s like to work with patients who have neurological impairments.
 
“I think it helps just being able to sit down with the patients, as well as their caretakers, and get a better understanding of who they are and what they’re going through.”

The patients at the intra-professional workshop had all suffered strokes and are all participants in OU’s Bridge the Gap Program. This community initiative pairs second- and third-year physical therapy students with patients in need of physical therapy to help treat neurological impairments. Students perform the physical therapy – under supervision of a licensed physical therapist – as part of their neurological interventions classes.
 
Emily Pietraniec, a Doctor of Physical Therapy student who has participated in Bridge the Gap, said that intra-professional collaboration between DPT and PTA students is a natural fit.
 
“We’ve had inter-professional education with medical and nursing students before, but never anything with PTA students. And they’re actually the ones we’ll be working with the closest,” she said. “It opens up good communication and allows both sides to show what they can offer.”
 
DPT student Ben McCown noted that while he worked with licensed PTA’s during one of his clinical internships, this was his first interaction with PTA students.
 
“This was a great opportunity to bring two parts of the profession together,” he said. “We’re going to be graduating pretty close together and working with some of the same patients toward the same goals. For us, it’s really about learning how to work together to achieve the best outcome for the patients.”

At the intra-professional event, students listened to patients and their spouses discuss their experiences dealing with the life-altering effects of neurological impairment – from time spent in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, to daily challenges of life at home and in the community.
 
Clarkston residents Philip and Carrolann Paradise were among those who shared their story with students. In 2013, Philip suffered a stroke that left him unable to walk. He spent time in both inpatient and outpatient facilities before connecting with Bridge the Gap, which he and his wife learned about from another participant in the program.

“It’s a wonderful program,” said Carrolann. “I wish all the colleges had it, but they don’t.”
 
She said her husband has benefited from the therapy, both physically and emotionally. He especially enjoys watching students learn from the experience.
 
“Of all the places we’ve gone to, we find that the students really have a heart for him,” she said. “One of the major issues right now is that there aren’t enough neuro PT’s. And by coming here, we get a chance to encourage people to go into neuro, so that we can get better services for Phil and other neuro patients.”

According to a 2017 Huffington Post article, more than 100 million Americans - close to a third of the total population - suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, migraines, epilepsy and spinal cord injury. These conditions put a financial strain on the health care system, to the tune of nearly $800 billion in annual costs. Not all those costs are covered by insurance – which was one of many topics discussed at the intra-professional workshop.
 
“We talked about how insurance will only cover certain treatments and how that can be hard to deal with,” said PTA student Lauren Vanderhoff. “There’s also the daily activities of getting out of bed and getting around in the community. You have to really prepare and have a plan of what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get there.”

PTA student Kameron Joostberns said that hearing from patients and caregivers also gave him insight into the challenges they face.

“Something that most people wouldn’t think twice about, such as travel or vacation accommodations, is so noticeable to them,” he said. “It really does affect not just the patient, but the whole family.”
 
Vanderhoff added, “It’s important to recognize that the caregivers are going through this process with the patients, and they may be experiencing their own physical or emotional issues. So, going to support groups is not only for the patients, it’s for the caregivers too.”

Baker’s Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education, Susan Tomica, said the event gave the PTA students an opportunity to build on textbook and classroom instruction.
 
“These students are in their first semester of our PTA program, so they’re learning about concepts right now,” she said. “To be able to come here and see someone with real impairments share their experience is very valuable for them.”

LTU wins first, third place in national competition for assistive design

Two teams from Lawrence Technological University took first and third place in the SourceAmerica Design Challenge, a national competition to design workplace products that improve the employability of people with disabilities.

An LTU team won first place for its Cube XL Assembly, which nearly doubled the assembly output of employees assembling equipment to fasten pipes to interior surfaces on buildings. The device allows people who have the use of only one hand to perform the task.

Finishing in third place was another LTU team’s Clip Assembly Device, which allows people with limited hand function to assemble a clip used in automotive headrests.

Lawrence Tech’s sophomore-year engineering design studio class has been working for two years to develop products like these for Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), a Dearborn-based charity that works to boost employment prospects for people with disabilities.

“It’s incredibly valuable to us,” Steve Slayton, STEP’s director of business development, said of LTU’s assistance. “Both of the designs this year made big impacts for our clients. The tools that the students create allow our clients to do jobs that they were not able to do before, and allow our clients to really increase their productivity.”

More than 120 teams of high school and college students in STEM programs across the country competed in the challenge. Three collegiate and five high school teams were selected for the finals competition, held in early April in Washington, D.C.

A member of the first place team, Bram Ligon, called the competition “a pretty eye opening experience.” The sophomore mechanical engineering major from Rochester Hills said it was “really awesome, getting to work with the various subject matter experts and hear their stories about how other teams have developed assistive technologies for people with disabilities.” Ligon said the teams made their presentations in a conference setting with about 150 people present, before a panel of judges that included current and former staffers with IBM, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Academy of Engineering.

A member of the third place team, Victoria Pellerito, a junior mechanical engineering major from Macomb Township, added: “Beginning to end, it was amazing. The moments leading up to the presentation were nerve-wracking, but once we got up there and started presenting, it was great. You knew everyone there genuinely cared.”

John Bowen, a member of the first-place team and a sophomore double major in biomedical engineering and molecular and cell biology from Williamston, said the event featured a packed schedule of workshops and discussions daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., “and then we’d practice our presentations until midnight.” The teams also met with staffers of U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell.

The faculty teaching the sophomore engineering design class said the SourceAmerica and STEP relationships have truly brought home design thinking concepts for the engineering students.

“The relationship with STEP has made all the difference in the level of student engagement and ownership within the design studio,” said Cristi Bell-Huff, director of LTU’s Studio for Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (SEED). “Having real customers to empathize with and really create value for has made a lasting impact on our students’ professional and personal development as engineers. Serving customers with disabilities in particular helps our students get outside the classroom and outside of their own perspectives in order to solve a real world problem that will make a big difference in someone's life. “

Added Heidi Morano, SEED project engineer: “The value of customer engagement is two-fold; first, the ability to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is a critical skill for engineers in this day and age. Secondly, that the student teams are able to see directly the impact that their design can have on someone’s life really seems to resonate and leaves a lasting impression.”

SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit with a mission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, hosts the Design Challenge annually. The contest is designed to bring greater awareness of the need and the impact of assistive technology in the workplace and encourage upcoming generations to develop an inclusive mindset.

Pellerito said her hope is that more can be done to help millions of disabled Americans find jobs. Only 17.9 percent of Americans with disabilities were employed in 2016, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 65.3 percent of Americans without disabilities. She also said she hopes more colleges and universities can be convinced to compete in the SourceAmerica Design Challenge.

More on the competition at http://www.sourceamerica.org/design-challenge. Stories about individual finalists’ projects may be found at http://www.sourceamerica.org/news.
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