Designing and 3D Printing a Toy set for Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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.


Hayley and Nemo’s STEP Adventure

“How firm thy friendship”

Name: Hayley Curran (and Nemo)

Type of Project: Service-Learning and Community Service

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

Through STEP, I have had the wonderful opportunity to rescue a miniature horse and train him to provide therapy to individuals in nursing homes, schools, and healthcare settings.  Nemo and I have been working hard to grow from an abused, fearful and distrustful miniature horse, to learning how to trust humans again, demonstrated by his willingness to wear tiny tennis shoes, not being afraid of scary noises, spaces, or people, and most importantly, visiting and connecting with people in need.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Working with Nemo has completely transformed my perspective and approach to every conversation, meeting, or new situation. I have learned that, in order to gain trust and respect, I must be prepared to give every ounce of patience, kindness, and understanding – even if, on the surface, the individual may not be the most gracious or deserving.

For instance, training Nemo has helped me realize the importance of taking the time to see beyond the surface behavior, something which has given me a new perspective on what it means to work in the healthcare field. Whatever situation I encounter, whatever obstacles I will face, I know that this experience working with Nemo has given me the tools necessary to think outside the box and adapt my approach to successfully work through challenging situations. By taking the time to slow down and quietly evaluate, I know that great strides can be achieved.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Working with such a severely abused and neglected rescue horse has taught me that everyone has a story, and everyone has a chance at a new spin on life. Training Nemo to become a normal horse – not even a therapy horse – was an uphill battle, and absolutely challenged my ability to persevere. There were days that I was so frustrated I cried. I went back into the house completely discouraged. It would have been so much easier to give up, but I knew I would be letting not only myself down, but also Nemo as well.  My ability as a trainer and as a person were tested over and over for months, but, slowly, I started seeing small improvements. Maybe Nemo wouldn’t jump away when I walked to one side of him. Or when he would let me touch his face without trying to run. Or when I could walk him without him rearing up in protest. All very small steps, but all so meaningful to our journey. I was asked – “Why don’t you just get a new horse? Or one who is trained? Or at least not a rescue who was beaten over the head and left to rot alone in a barren barn?”

Well, because all the while I believed in Nemo and his story and our journey.  As a future healthcare professional, and as a human being, it is so important to take a step back from deadlines, overhead pressure, and extenuating circumstances in order to place value and invest in someone’s journey.

Together, Nemo and I persevered. It was not easy for either of us, and we both faced new challenges every day while working to heal old scars. Recovering from the trauma has taken time, patience, and understanding, and has taught me how to be creative and to think outside of the box to figure out new solutions to try when what I was trying didn’t work.

The progress Nemo has made within the last year is remarkable. Horses are prey animals, and their natural instinct is fight and flight. The trauma he endured in his short life is heartbreaking, leaving him terrified of all humans and most everyday situations. To see where he is now, and know that I have been instrumental in teaching him to open his heart and trust is one of my proudest achievements.  Just today, Nemo pulled the scary trashcan up the gravel driveway without balking. In fact, he barely batted an eye, and took it in stride, and pulled that trashcan up the winding driveway like that’s what we have been doing every day for the last year. Having something loud and jostling tied to him is the horse equivalent of having a mountain lion attacking him. I was so proud of him for all of his hard work and most of all, it has taught me that if you don’t give up on them, they won’t give up on you, either.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Working with Nemo has been so valuable to my life not only as a student, but also as a more compassionate and understanding healthcare professional and human being.  Although becoming a “mom” to a 250 pound little creature with no manners and a whole lot of distrust for humans with a full course load and part time job sounded insane, it has been so rewarding to pursue my passion hands-on. As a student it is often difficult to put the course work into practice, and the opportunity to combine my love for animals with desire to make an impact in healthcare and improving mental health has been unbelievably rewarding. Although waking up at 4:30 every morning to care for Nemo, driving over an hour to school, completing 18 credit hours and 15+ hours of work only to rush home from college every evening to work with him before it got too dark outside and then going in to do homework was less than ideal, I never regretted my decision to have the chance to impact not only Nemo’s life, but those individuals we will be helping in our future visits as well.

As a future healthcare professional, my work with Nemo has helped my take a step back and be patient, realizing that everyone has a story and a past, and putting the patient’s needs above a deadline or my personal motivation. Nemo was sold to me as a loving backyard pet, but had actually been abused, and was afraid to be around humans. Understanding this, and learning how to adapt my approach to better suit Nemo has been transformational. It is really about putting yourself to the side and working to rehabilitate the patient.

This is not something that could have been taught in a classroom, and, I imagine, takes a lot of time for people working in people-centered fields to realize. Without Nemo, or STEP, I would not have understood the impact or gravity of working together to complete a seemingly impossible goal. I have realized what it means to become a cohesive team, as I have officially had one of the most difficult teammates ever! With Nemo, I have been taught how to be patient and not give up, and have only confirmed that the harder you work for something, the greater you feel when you achieve it. Learning that the trials and tribulations I experienced with Nemo early on will help me with all future endeavors, roadblocks, and situations, and I will be forever grateful to Ohio State for giving me this opportunity.

So, here’s to welcoming not only the journey, but also the challenge. I have learned that it makes victory that much sweeter.


Working on matching braids and posing :)


Please enjoy a few snapshots of our training process! Training any therapy animal is a very long and detailed process. Because Nemo was abused and neglected, this process took a little longer than originally anticipated in order to ensure the comfort and safety of Nemo, as well as provide patients the best experience possible. We are launching a Facebook and Instagram page this week (@NemotheTherapyMini) and will be doing visits this summer and fall and hope to make new friends at the STEP Expo!!! Thank you for reading about our journey — we are both so grateful for STEP and Ohio State!

Training obstacles    "When one door closes..."   Conquering obstacles together   Training help from my little sister, Alayna! It was important for Nemo to get used to ALL people. Also, it might not look like a big thing, but Nemo holding still with a waving hand near his face was a HUGE milestone!

Sometimes scary things can fly around and land our head...   Therapy horses must be ready for cuddles!   Nemo was not amused waking up as a newly-minted gelding...   We bought/built a horse trailer! Nemo is practicing walking in and out of his special mini-sized stall

Vogue   Working on cuddles !      Nemo loved dressing up for Halloween!!!!      Therapy horse kisses!   Indoor training exercises!! Casual Sunday afternoon, right?    "Oh my God there is a horse in my kitchen!!!!" - my mom    Front porch chillin'


Service Learning: Theater Arts Group & CNIS

My STEP project was designed to support the theater program at Columbus North International High School. Their theater program was cut, and as a means of service, OSU students have been facilitating a program that promotes mentor-ship through theater. Specifically, I built multi-functional set pieces for the program while teaching students technical skills such as using standard tools.

While completing my project, I gained perspective on what opportunities I had access to, that many people do not. First, I had arts programs available to me throughout my life. Second, my family was able to teach my skills like how to use a drill, build things in a structurally sound way, and generally be comfortable with a variety of household skills. Many of the students I worked with did not have access to arts programs, didn’t know how to use a drill, or open a can of paint. On a more broad level, I also had the skills to reach out to administrators at CNIS for permissions for my project, where as many of the students at the school had never interacted with administrators or staff outside of their direct teachers.

My STEP project occurred in two phases. The first was a building phase, and the second was a painting and teaching phase. During the first part of my project, I had to go to a number of hardware and supply stores for materials to build the set. I had two distinctly different experiences during this part. The first time I went shopping, I went to a store a little farther from home, which advertised a wide variety of tools that I would need for my project. I explained what I was doing to the staff there, and they set me up with a representative who was excited to speak with me regarding my project, look at my designs, and walk me through many of the benefits of each type of tool. He explained how some tools would be functionally better, and some would be easier for me to use and walked me through several models to find the most comfortable fit.

For all of my supply outings, I went with my dad, as I couldn’t carry most of the lumber on my own, and it would speed up the process. Where the first outing representatives spoke to me, the second time, they only spoke with my dad. Store representatives seemed to think he would have a better understanding of what would work, even though it was my project. Though this was not an initial issue I thought I would face, it was still an interesting perspective on how women are still not seen as capable or “handy.”

In the second part, I worked with students at CNIS to finish the set for their play, Among Friends and Clutter. It was interesting which students were more helpful. The set aspect was new this year, but the theater component is approximately three years old. Students who were seniors felt they could skip out and were notable less reliable in showing up to rehearsals. As a result, many freshman were cast in leading roles, and I placed a freshman as student stage manager because he was much more responsible and committed to the show. This was a surprise to me, because in my high school programs, the level of responsibility and expectations went up as you got older, and it was a reality check to remember that not all schools and programs have that standard.

This was transformative for me on a personal level. Theater has never been a career goal, but is has been a large part of my life. First, it was shocking to me what design skills and stru ctural ideas I had picked up just from watching people build over the years. I was able to recreate many set pieces using my own analysis without seeing the original designs for the pieces that I used for inspiration. Additionally, I didn’t realize to what extent my skills were not universal, and it was important to me to teach as many of those skills to the students as I could. Long term, I plan on going into nonprofit management. While it may not be in the arts, I plan on taking this learning experience to the workplace.

Grand Canyon Service Learning

Name: Lucy Daugherty

Type of Project: Service Learning and Community Service


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

As a group, we embarked on this journey to step outside of our comfort zones and to help people along the way.  We started at Palatki Heritage Site, which is an archeological site that inhabits cliff dwellings and ancient pictographs.  We worked with the volunteers there to preserve the area in order to keep the history rich in culture.  We worked on their trails keeping them walkable and in good shape in order to keep people from veering off trails.  We also volunteered at Yavapai food council where we packed weekend food bags for kids who might not have the opportunity to eat over the weekend while they are at home.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

This trip helped me grow in a number of different ways.  First of all, the service that we did was so appreciated by the people we were helping, making it so worth it.  The volunteers who lived at the Heritage Site could not thank us enough for the three or four days that we were there to help them.  Our help allowed them to focus on other parts of the heritage site and allowed them more time to give tours to people who were interested in learning more about the way the Native Americans lived back then.  At Yavapai Food Council, one lady started crying because she was so moved that our group was interested in helping out because she once lived in a home where food was hard to come by.  Seeing people’s reactions to our volunteer work made me realize how important it is to help people whenever you can.  It may not mean so much to you, but it will mean a great deal to the people you are helping.

This trip made me realize that life is not all about yourself, it is about helping people whenever you can.  It is about giving back where and when you can.  It is about meeting new people and learning from their experiences or just learning from their outlook on life.  Life is about stepping out of your comfort zones in order to gain more experience, which is exactly what I did.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

As I previously mentioned, one of the most inspiring and worthwhile parts of the trip was the reaction to our service.  I did not expect them to be so heart warmed by our service, but that just shows that not enough people volunteer to help them out.  This really stuck with me and has encouraged me to volunteer whenever I can.  The world needs more people who will sacrifice their time to better another organization or community.

One of the hardest parts of that trip was hiking six miles out of the Grand Canyon starting at two o’clock in the morning.  This was actually the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and it clearly showed.  I was the slowest in my group, so our group leaders encouraged me to go in the front because we are only as fast as our slowest member.  This made me believe in the power of teamwork and encouragement.  Everyone in my group was encouraging each other, not getting mad when people asked for breaks, and all in all were the reason that I was able to make it to the top of that gruesome hike.  I will never forget their support and the rejoice we had at the end, they made me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Lastly, what affected me the most was one girl in my group who was so similar to me that we connected from the start.  She realized from something I had said in the big group that I had anxiety, just like her.  She pulled me aside and we had gotten to talking about it on a deep, personal level.  She is two years younger than me but inspires me to this day.  I am incredibly grateful that I met her, as she has taught me so much about life, compassion and the importance of service and kindness.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.


Transformation and change is valuable in my life because I am the type of person that is just content with the same old, same old.  I am terrified of planes, I do not like to be in a group of people that I do not know, and I do not like to travel away from home.  All three of those things were included in my week-long trip through Buck-I-SERV, and I am so grateful they were.  I learned so much and met so many people along the way that made it all worthwhile.  As always, I was more shy towards the beginning.  However, towards the middle and end of the week, I was having a really good time and making friends with everyone on the trip.

I am confident that this trip will help me in my future because it allowed me to branch out, make new friends, and be put out of my comfort zone.  I was displaced from comfort so much during that trip. But, I came out on top.  I made it out alive, and I had a great time.  Without that experience, I may have had a negative outlook on social interactions forever.  I am happy that I did this because it gives me a positive future to look forward to knowing I can handle these situations. 

Greenville Humane Society

Yiannis Sotiropoulos


My STEP Project allowed me to lead a group of student volunteers on a Buck-I-SERV trip to Greenville Humane Society. With the entire group’s effort, we had the privilege of caring for the animals staying at the Humane Society and even got to star in a commercial promoting the Humane Society.

Going into this Buck-I-SERV trip, I had already been on several different service trips with some even occurring in places across the globe. However, upon undergoing my journey to South Carolina, I was quickly in for a surprise about the difficulties that leading a group would hold. Not only was I responsible for those going on this trip with me but I also was the driver for our long excursion down to South Carolina. Despite these newfound challenges, I pressed on to inspire my group to continue to push themselves to learn more about Animal Rights in different and constructive ways. I’m very glad that I was able to take on the role of a leader and thrive off of the feedback from every group member.

The initial event that tipped me off about the weight of responsibility that I would bear was the 8-hour drive in a large van down to South Carolina. As someone who lives out-of-state, long drives weren’t foreign to me. Although, motivating the group towards opening up took several hours of boring stories and a few badly sung songs all from myself. Soon after the ice was broken several conversations were happening at the same time and a feeling of familiarity fell over the group. I believe that by undertaking this responsibility I was control over not only how fast we got there but also the safety of the group in general. In this way, I reached a new understanding of what being a leader really means and understood that even tasks that may seem tedious actually greatly impact the group.

Another crucial unexpected aspect of the trip that had to be overcome was how to spend down time together as a group. I soon learned that it’s tricky to find activities that a diverse group of individuals would be entertained by. After brainstorming potential exciting activities, everyone was able to agree to my suggestion of seeing a movie at a nearby theatre. While watching the movie I pondered other ways to keep everyone engaged and having a meaningful time, so I introduced a card game named Palace. Quickly Palace filled any free time we had for the remainder of the week as the obsession for winning and bragging rights kicked in. It’s amazing to me how such a simple game can create a bond between the group and allow everyone to express themselves. I also felt the weight of responsibility through this from finding an activity that would entertain everyone in the group without anyone being left out.

The final test that I found myself combating as a trip leader was allowing the group to reflect on the impact that they made on Greenville Humane Society. Initially, a few group members didn’t feel that we were being as beneficial as possible or that they had different expectations for the trip entirely. Slowly though team building from volunteering as well as games we would play in our free time allowed for a group dynamic to form. I was able to help several members realize that we weren’t just impacting the pets in the Humane Society but also the workers who would be able to spend more time providing care for the animals. Finally, we were able to have group discussion in which everyone shared how they thought they having an impact even the skeptics realized the mark we were leaving. Additionally, within days puppies that we had once bathed and walked were even adopted in front of our eyes! It was amazing how the accumulation of the work that we put in allowed these animals to find loving homes.

Discovering more about leadership and how to motivate a group really has inspired me to reflect more upon myself. This type of introspective thinking was quickly applied to other activities in my life whenever I had the free time to think. From showering to running, the more activities that I’m able to spend reflecting, the more I appreciate the choices that I make. I also found that advice that I shared with my group members was also applicable to my own experience. One big piece of advise that I now follow myself is that actions have a big impact even if they aren’t impacting yourself directly, so it’s important to be careful and generous with them. Another lesson that I took with me is that leading can definitely be a challenge, however by taking on a larger role I was able to hone neglected skills and bring together a group of strangers for a meaningful purpose. Moving forward I can use these newfound skills to my advantage while pursuing my career in Veterinary Medicine; first by establishing a network and bond with my classmates and later to push each other to become the best versions of ourselves possible. My Greenville trip will always be a part of me and I know that I’m different for having been a part of it.