McNicholas engineering students learned real-world skills and provided valuable service to the community through a semester-long partnership with May We Help.
May We Help (MWH), a non-profit organization co-founded by McNicholas graduate Bill Deimling ‘61, designs, builds, and delivers custom assistive devices that help people with disabilities achieve independence.
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In September, Mr. Steve Dalton and his engineering class met with MWH and their client Mason Elementary; the school was in need of switch-adapted toys for students who do not have the fine motor skills needed to hold toys, press small buttons, or pull levers.
The Rocket engineers were then paired with MWH engineers and given access to their full workshop where they spent October and November dissecting, studying, and (after some trial and error) modifying the toys to meet the needs of the Mason students.
Senior Jack Caccavari said, “In our work with volunteers at May We Help, we learned about circuits, soldering, and practically applying what we learned to real-life situations. Seeing the Mason students’ faces light up when they played with the toys was a very rewarding experience.”
The partnership continued to grow from there.
McNicholas National Honor Society students and the Alumni Association got involved next and raised funds to provide toys for the May We Help Tinkered Toy Box Program, which provided free switch-adapted toys to children in time for the holidays.
The engineering students headed back to the lab and modified the toys donated by the McNicholas community. The toys were delivered by Santa Claus this past weekend. Jack said, “It was so special to see the positive impact we had made on those kids.”
MWH Project Director Brianne Wilkerson said that collaboration with McNicholas benefits both the students and MWH: “Students have the opportunity to use their technical skills to solve real-life challenges, and they learn how good it feels to use those skill sets to help others. They learn about volunteerism and gain an understanding and empathy for people with disabilities. For MWH, the collaboration allows us to expand our pool of volunteers and to obtain toys at no cost, which means we can give the gift of play to even more kids this holiday season.”
McNicholas Director of Development John Jorden said, “This is a perfect example of our Mission 26 goals at work: students partnering with our alumni and community members for experiential learning that has real-world connections, real-world implications, and real-world impacts. Our students are learning from others and giving back at the same time. This is Catholic education at its finest.”
Mr. Dalton agrees, “At McNicholas, we talk a lot about ‘finding your brilliance’ which means finding where your talents meet the world’s greatest needs. These students worked hard to develop their talents and to gain the knowledge and skill required to meet a real-world need. It was absolute brilliance! And seeing the excitement and the energy of my students and the kids that we helped–it doesn’t get any better than that!”
May We Help and Mr. Dalton are looking forward to continuing the partnership next semester with a new class of engineers and a new problem to solve.
Interested in partnering with McNicholas? Please contact Student Culture Coordinator Todd Naumann.
This is a perfect example of our Mission 26 goals at work: students partnering with our alumni and community members for experiential learning that has real-world connections, real-world implications, and real-world impacts. Our students are learning from others and giving back at the same time. This is Catholic education at its finest.
John Jorden, Director of Development