Five Grand Valley engineering students successfully delivered and installed their latest project - a special motorized swing for students with special needs at Ottawa Area Center, in Allendale.
Officials from OAC, a public school serving the unique educational needs of students with cognitive impairments, approached Grand Valley for help. They were interested in creating a motorized swing that would also allow staff members to stabilize the children when putting them in the swing, or getting them out.
Wendy Reffeor, assistant professor of engineering, presented the challenge to design students in the School of Engineering in summer 2011. They designed a stand to stabilize the existing swing at OAC. Then, during the following summer, five students in her Machine Design course designed a motorized swing. It works without anyone pushing it. This allows students who are unable to move the swing themselves to benefit from the sensation of swinging, and frees staff to spend time assisting other students.
Reffeor and students Amy Zwiernikowski, Daniel Datema, Ryan Schwark, Eric Grabijas and Nate Seitz delivered and set up their project October 25. OAC student Keisha, was all smiles as the first student to use the swing.
“The engineering students were very excited about working on this project,” said Reffeor. “They have said that the opportunity to design something to help the OAC students and staff was very rewarding and motivated them to do their best work.”