My STEP project involved designing a toy set on SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing it in a material that would be safe yet durable for children. The toy set was donated to the Child Care Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
This project helped me to truly realize what I would like to do with my life and how I can help others while doing what I love. When I first decided to pursue this project, I thought about how it fit the criteria for a STEP project in service: it would give me a chance to learn more about SOLIDWORKS and I would be able to help those at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As I laid out the parts to design and began my project, I immediately became absorbed in my project and would work on a part for hours at a time, unknowing how much time had passed since I began that day. Once all parts were designed and printed, I looked at each part in awe because I took an idea in my mind and transformed it into a tangible object. Not only did an idea become real, but it also took the perfect form that I had imagined initially. I wanted to do more than just make pieces for kids: I wanted it to be interactive for them, and let them build the toys. To do this, I designed and printed each building as panels that slid together as seen below with my skyscraper (refer to attached pictures).
When I took the finished parts and constructed the final play set, I was beyond thrill. Everything fit and worked together flawlessly. At this point, I realized that I have the potential to turn an idea into something tangible and help those in need.
The idea to dedicate my project to the kids at Nationwide Children’s Hospital stemmed from my work with BuckeyeThon throughout my college life. As I became more involved with BuckeyeThon, I learned how life can be incredibly difficult, especially for those who do not deserve it. While I may not be able to take away the pain and suffering some kids are forced to endure, I realized that I could at least help them be kids and let them play with toys like I used to. But, it wasn’t until I donated the toys that I could see the impact I was having. The employees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that officially accepted the donation could not stop thanking me and were very excited to let the kids play with the toy set. At this time, I realized that I wasn’t just helping the kids, but everyone they interacted with on a daily basis as well. While I thought I was helping a select group of people, I was really helping so many more people than I could realize, and now I am more excited that before to see how far and wide I can have an impact and help those in need.
Specifically, the employees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, my cohort leader, and the machine shop manager in the Department of Mechanical Engineering had a lasting impact on me. When it came to donating the toys at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the employees were so flexible with me when it came to arranging at day and time to meet. They could not stop thanking me and told me how excited they were to put the toys to good use. In the end, they helped me to see the impact I was having on countless others, and the idea that I could be helping so many more people than I originally thought encouraged me; In the future, I plan to give back to children in need, and I will be making a lasting impact, regardless of whether I see it immediately or not.
My cohort leader, Annie Abell, had nothing short of a positive impact on me. She always supported my project since its inception, and brainstormed with me so we could make it the best it could be. Even when time was beginning to wind down on the project and there was still more I planned to do, she offered valuable advice and helped me see how to expedite the remaining parts of the project. In the end, Annie helped me realize and how to go about completing a project like this and how critical it is to plan everything out before acting. As an engineering student, I know these skills and ideas will be important to my future, and I look forward to using everything she taught me when I take on larger projects.
Kevin Wolf, the machine shop manager in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Ohio State was a connection I developed in the first weeks of the project and was critical when it came to the toy designing process. Originally, Annie recommended that I talk to him about my toy designs and print them with him. This proved to be nothing but a great idea. I began prototyping all my toys and would send them to Kevin once they were completed. He would offer me advice and help me optimize my toys for usability while remaining within my budget. Some toys took much time to develop their final prototypes, but he remained patient with me and not only helped me to learn from my mistakes, but also taught me critical lessons regarding designing and machining objects, regardless of their ultimate destination.
The experience I had with my STEP project is valuable to my life because it showed me how I can take on something I don’t know very well and turn a concept into reality. It also showed me that whenever I pursue philanthropic work or any work in the future, countless other people that aren’t the benefiters I first thought of can be helped by my endeavors. In the end, I can have a lasting impact that goes beyond what I could have initially imagined, and I am excited to see how all my future work unfolds.