For an average child suffering from cerebral palsy, slower motor skills and restrictions in mobility has disqualified them from playing with most electronic toys available in the market. Toys specially tailored for these children are high in productivity costs and therefore very expensive. This sculpted the mission for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Club Special Projects Committee to collaborate with Engineering Good, a non-profit organisation that empowers disadvantaged communities by improving their quality of life through sustainable engineering solutions.
MAE HackAble Outreach is the first large-scale community outreach programme organised, that looks at tapping the skills and knowledge of MAE students, to engage them in a hands-on learning experience to build low-cost, assistive devices for children suffering from cerebral palsy. The aim of the event was to expose engineering students to humanitarian engineering and show them how engineering can be applied for a social cause.
40 MAE students spent their Saturday morning learning how to apply basic engineering skills such as soldering, electrical rewiring and troubleshooting, to build assistive switches for the beneficiaries. These assistive switches are low-cost and can be re-wired into the circuits of off-the-shelf toys for easy activation by children with special needs, providing an affordable an innovative solution to their problem. The switches not only restore their joy in playing, but also encourage movement and the improvement of their motor skills.
For children with special needs, the switch-adapted toys made during the workshops help to enhance their learning and educational opportunities and gain independence in activities of daily living. For example, a switch-adapted toy enables a child with special needs to play independently and learn through play, and his/her therapist is also able to use the same switch adapted toy to motivate him/her during therapy, to improve his/her physical and cognitive.
At the end of the event, all assistive devices created were donated to charities providing special education for children with disabilities such as Rainbow Centre Singapore, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore and AWWA.
A very meaningful and enjoyable event where I discovered how engineering can play a part in doing good for someone.Benedict Yeo, Special Projects Officer
About Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Club (MAE Club)
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Club (MAE Club) is an academic constituent club whose members are MAE undergraduates. The Club represent the interests of MAE students, and organise welfare and social activities to enrich their school life.
In July 2016, MAE Club set up a new committee to run the MAE Club Special Projects (SP) portfolio. It aims to provide a more holistic and well-rounded University experience for MAE students, through the organisation of community involvement programmes which incorporates relevant engineering skills and knowledge.