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Rockets engineer fun & accessibility for adaptive baseball team

Rockets engineer fun & accessibility for adaptive baseball team

McNicholas engineering students stepped up to the plate, helping Little League baseball players who use walkers and wheelchairs to field ground balls. The grabbers they designed, tested, and manufactured were delivered to the Mason Challenger Baseball team in December.

“Mr. Dalton always tells us that engineering is about taking a good design and finding ways to make it better,” senior engineering student Shawn Roesel said. In this case “better” meant more accessibility for children who usually have to sit on the sidelines.

The Mason Challenger Baseball team is part of the Little League Challenger Division®, the Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. “Their mission is to provide children and families with the opportunity to participate in traditional childhood activities as autonomously as possible,” engineering teacher Mr. Steve Dalton said.

After several rounds of prototype testing with the players and their families, Rocket engineers designed two different devices to assist the young athletes. The process to bring these designs to life required the engineering students to use new tools and challenged them to develop new skills.

“It was definitely a challenge because we needed to make a device that not only worked when we tested it in the classroom, but was actually functional and assisted the kids on the baseball field,” senior Daniel Reuss said.

Shawn said, “We utilized the STEM tools available to us in the McNicholas Makerspace. We also had the opportunity to work with May We Help [who partnered with us on this project] in their Invention Shop. It was awesome to have access to so many tools and pieces of technology during this project.”

From designing and building motors to fabricating and 3D printing custom pieces, the final products were as impressive as the skill, effort, and heart that these Rockets poured into them. 

“The best part about this project was knowing that our designs would directly impact the kids and help them have access to the fun and excitement of sports,” Daniel said.