TU, Little Light House enjoy service partnership

The University of Tulsa’s Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) initiative continued its service to the Tulsa community this spring with the design and fabrication of the Quiet Room project for the Little Light House.

Nationally recognized as a developmental center for children with physical and mental challenges, Tulsa’s Little Light House improves quality of life for children up to six years of age. TU has partnered with the organization for more than a decade, fabricating mobility aids and other developmental devices for its clients.

MADE at TU project
Engineering students deliver the Quiet Room project to the Little Light House.

On May 2, mechanical engineering seniors delivered a portable enclosure known as the Quiet Room to children at the Little Light House. The device is designed for youth on the autism spectrum who require a calm and soothing space to play. The Quiet Room offers a sensory environment of visual, aural and tactile elements that can be tailored to suit a child’s needs. Comprised of international students, the project team included Nawaf Al-Balushi, Abdul Al-Maawali Estanislau Candido, Antonio Lopes, Stevenson Miguel and lelma Oliveira. After six months of research, testing and fabrication, therapists at the Little Light House were pleased with the finished product.

“The Quiet Room will provide those with cortical visual impairment a safe and quiet place to learn and play,” said occupational therapist Anne McCoy. “To make sure their projects are the best possible, TU students regularly interact with our therapists, teachers and children. The Little Light House loves our partnership with TU.”

Student engineers have collaborated with the Little Light House for nearly a decade, and many also volunteer there individually on a regular basis. New in 2016, MADE at TU expanded its service clientele to the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. A team of students built a device known as the Swift Lift that lifts members from a sitting to standing position to provide support while walking.

MADE at TU
Since the 1970s, TU engineering students have focused their talents on projects that address the special needs of local residents with physical and developmental disabilities. The late Steven Bellovich, then-dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, held a keen interest in these projects and offered funds to students from his own budget. The venture became known as the Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) initiative. Bellovich passed away in 2012, but his community-minded spirit lives on in the Make a Difference Engineering endowment established in his honor.