A standard engineering project took on a deeper meaning when Wichita State engineering and physical therapy students watched 3-year-old Jocelyn McNeese drive around in a toy car they modified for her special needs.
Jocelyn has a form of dwarfism, which causes her to struggle with mobility.
After hearing about Jocelyn, students in WSU’s Service Learning in Engineering course set off to help the little girl through the project GoBabyGo!, a retrofitting program created in 2006 by the University of Delaware.
"It was incredible to watch the students with a real-life person depending on them to succeed."
– Samantha Corcoran
Along with Rainbows United and two students from the Department of Physical Therapy, the perfect collaboration was created.
“For me as an instructor, it was incredible to watch the students with a real-life person depending on them to succeed and having to work with students of multiple disciplines to get the job done,” says Engineering Educator Samantha Corcoran. “Getting to meet their customer and using empathy to truly understand her needs really gave importance to their work, knowing that it would allow a 3-year-old to have mobility. Students become engineers to help people, and projects like this solidify that.”
Jocelyn’s car required complete rewiring and programming a new joystick to replace the traditional steering wheel/accelerator pedal. Lab manager Nathan Smith led the engineering students throughout the modification process.
After measuring her to ensure the right fit, the car was presented to Jocelyn in early May. Participants in WSU GoBabyGo! also modified a car for a 1-year-old girl with spina bifida and hope to continue similar projects.
Graduate physical therapy student Alice Hartman says the project was motivating as it allowed her to collaborate with other disciplines and use her classroom experience in a real-life situation.
“It's been an incredible opportunity to work with the engineering students and Rainbows United,” she says. “I am really impressed and thankful for the work that our engineers do and encouraged as I embark on the profession of physical therapy in seeing how I can work with others.”