Biomedical Engineering Project Provides Holiday Cheer by Adapting Toys |
As an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Mei Lin (Ete) Chan is no stranger to performing on tasks involving 3D printing and assistive know-how, initiatives aimed at improving day-to-working day functionality for individuals with disabilities. But the encouragement from a neighborhood councilman to support with a toy drive pushed her enthusiasm for local community outreach in a way that enabled Chan and her college students to deliver some much-wanted holiday spirit to young ones in want.
Jonathan Kornreich, a member of the Brookhaven City Council representing the district that includes Stony Brook University, is a passionate supporter of STEM training. Chan explained Kornreich and the neighborhood he signifies read about the get the job done finished by her and her pupils and advised her about the toy generate.
“I thought if we did this together, my learners and I could concentrate on the engineering aspect,” Chan explained.
Chan’s work in biomedical engineering commonly focuses on wellness-associated concerns. Although doing the job on a venture to enable elderly persons struggling from arthritis, Chan understood she could grow her local community outreach endeavours and interact college students by means of organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB), the nationwide biomedical engineering honor society, all of which have Stony Brook chapters.
“We had discussions at the Extensive Island Point out Veterans Household and they told us the matters that they required for more mature individuals,” explained Chan. “For case in point, individuals who have arthritis can have a tricky time accomplishing even simple responsibilities like brushing their tooth or employing a crucial to open up a door — anything at all that would have to have them to bend their fingers. Immediately after chatting to them we understood that this assistive technology would not only support elderly men and women who have arthritis, but it could also aid children who have disabilities that have an impact on their great motor competencies.”
Getting two younger children of her own, the very small person buttons included into lots of toys instantly came to head.
“Seeing how they play with toys and understand so quite a few things like action and reaction alongside the way is awesome,” she said. “And toys are not just for enjoyable. They can aid create gross and high-quality motor abilities, cognitive, psychosocial, psychological and linguistic techniques. But toys that have very little switches can be incredibly challenging for young ones who have a tough time with wonderful motor manage competencies.”
To address the obstacle, Chan and her students in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences labored on developing one thing termed an adaptive swap, which is fundamentally a huge button that can be tailored to the toy to make it less complicated for small children to navigate.
“Imagine a child sitting down in a wheelchair,” stated Chan. “They’d be able to quickly click on this even larger change and control the toy by them selves. It would give them some independence. When we commenced wondering about it like that it became a turning level.”
With that mission, Chan was able to simultaneously supply students a possibility to operate on a authentic-earth software and support out with the toy travel. Chan also cited the great importance of the inspiration and sources she received from her collaborator Blanche Leeman, clinical assistant professor in the Occupational Remedy Plan at the Stony Brook University University of Overall health Professions, as very well as a Canadian group identified as Makers Earning Improve and a Philadelphia corporation named Know-how for Our Total Lives (TechOWL), both of which share a similar mission.
“They deliver collectively engineers, educators and moms and dads,” Chan stated. “Someone like me would have an opportunity to assist grant needs by producing the assistive technology needed and delivery it to the particular person who requested it.”
Senior Nathaniel Jamison ‘23, a biomedical engineering significant and the STEM Coordinator Chair of AEMB, is a single of the pupils who spearheaded the initiative.
“We observed posts on the Makers Creating Modify web page that were being in line with what we were being executing with the toys,” he explained. “Now we’re making adapted toys for children who might have problems these kinds of as cerebral palsy. There are a whole lot of approaches we can make these easy jobs simpler as a result of these initiatives.”
Jamison claimed that there is a demand from customers for tailored toys, but the ones now out there are high priced, including $20-30 to the price tag of the toy by yourself.
“We want to assistance make these toys additional obtainable for the folks who need to have them,” said Jamison, adding that it’s fulfilling to be in a position to help families in want.
“It’s fulfilling in a way that you do not quite get from classes,” said Jamison. “The work we do on these assignments is heading to assist folks who will use it in serious lifestyle. It’s gratifying to know that people out there are heading to essentially gain from something you labored on.”
Chan explained the results of this initiative is largely thanks to the students’ involvement. Senior Elpida Manolas ’23, a biomedical engineering key and president of the Biomedical Engineering Society’s (BMES) Stony Brook Chapter, mobilized her e-board and customers to add to both equally the toy adaption and delivery.
“BMES has been equipped to arrange several of our members to go via coaching, adapt numerous toys, and support supply them to Stony Brook Children’s Medical center, United Cerebral Palsy, Angela’s Household and AHRC Suffolk,” reported Manolas. “Biomedical Engineering is all about locating imaginative and ground breaking ways to assist people, to boost their good quality of lifestyle. It is incredible to see this function actually benefiting people, and we hope to maintain remaining aspect of initiatives like this in the close to long term.”
Additionally, to broaden student involvement over and above people in the Section of Biomedical Engineering, the initiative fostered a meaningful collaboration with the Stony Brook department of the IEEE, letting students to expertise and discover from each other’s majors.
“When Professor Chan contacted us about collaborating with the Bioengineering, Schooling, Application and Exploration (BEAR) VIP (Vertically Integrated Job) Workforce on adapting toys for kids, we were genuinely excited to get associated and support out,” claimed Rachel Leong, an Electrical Engineering significant and vice president of the IEEE. “We utilised the IEEE lab to offer a space and the soldering irons for learners and had a lot of entertaining placing collectively the toys and adaptive switches. It is not every single working day that an firm reaches out to us to collaborate on a product that directly effects someone’s lives like this, and a satisfying and enriching encounter to be doing the job with persons from other disciplines like Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. It was a welcome improve of pace and we would be delighted to add more in the long run.”
Going ahead, Chan hopes to proceed with this initiative to set up adaptive toy libraries for the partner businesses and potentially also assistive technology for aged citizens in the Very long Island group.
— Robert Emproto