Go Baby Go: Milligan Engineering modifies toy cars to help local children play – www.elizabethton.com

Go Baby Go: Milligan Engineering modifies toy cars to help local children play

Posted at 14:00 Friday, December 8, 2023

MILLIGAN – Last week, Milligan University’s engineering program embodied their mission to change lives. Last Friday, students in the Introduction to Engineering course, along with engineering faculty, staff and other engineering students, partnered with AdapToPlay to host Go Baby Go Appalachia. This initiative aims to help children with limited abilities to play more fully.
At the event, Milligan students presented seven ride-on toys that they modified to make toy cars more accessible to local children. When the children and their families arrived, the engineering students helped them hook up their new cars and start driving. Based on each child’s needs, the cars were modified to be controlled by joysticks or buttons instead of steering wheels.
Since the beginning of the engineering program, Milligan’s engineering staff and students have partnered with AdapToPlay to create ride-on vehicles that can adapt to a child’s specific needs, ensuring that all children can play.
“Adapting toy vehicles is a very difficult, challenging and technically demanding mechatronics project,” says Dr. Greg Harrell, director of the engineering program. “Through this process, students get a serious dose of engineering problem solving as they learn how to read engineering drawings, follow a technical manual to build a machine, and use tools and calculations to understand tasks like replacing a steering wheel with a joystick. “
Harrell notes that this project also instills in freshmen the core mission of Milligan’s engineering program—to use engineering skills, knowledge and abilities to make the world a better place and to approach their work through Christian servant leadership.
For freshman Samuel Funderburk of Limestone, Tennessee, observing the Go Baby Go event as a prospective student convinced him that Milligan was the perfect college choice.
“I realized that Milligan was exactly what I was looking for,” he shares. “Professors are focused on helping their students not only learn the course material, but how to be engineers who can use that knowledge to help others.”
While Funderburk and his colleagues agreed the project was difficult, adapting the toy cars taught them how to apply engineering theories to real-world problems. Not only did he learn valuable engineering principles, but he and his colleagues also had to deal with their implementation. Funderburk noted that making sure the cables fit back under the toy’s hood after making adjustments was almost as challenging as unplugging the original controls to replace them with a joystick and microcontroller.
“What also became clear during the process of adapting these toy Jeeps was how doable something like this is,” Funderburk said. “Sure, it’s hard sometimes, but all that work is worth it when you see something you’ve built by helping a child. Although I love engineering and would build things just for fun, it’s encouraging to see that the money, time and work I put into becoming a better engineer will allow me to help others in a very real way.”
For the engineering faculty, Funderburk’s realization is one of the most important lessons from their introductory engineering course.
“Every time a child is strapped into the toy car that took so much effort and time for our students to create, and then the child chases everyone in the parking lot as they drive, then our students know that their efforts are making a real impact.” says Harrell.
For more information about Milligan’s engineering program, visit milligan.edu/engineering.

Contributed photo
Milligan students presented seven ride-on toys they modified to make toy cars more accessible to local children.

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