Covid-19 threw a wrench in our plans for the final design review for students engaged in our Zoo Train Challenge. MSOE had planned to play host for the session, but as schools and universities first closed and then moved on-line we adjusted as well.
As schools reopened for distance learning, five teams were able to continue work on the challenge to redesign the process used to store and load coal for the Zoo’s steam locomotives. In most cases, they were forced to do so without the resources and physical prototypes they had started to produce. On Wednesday, four teams were able to join a review session on Zoom where they presented their ideas to and took questions from a review panel representing the advisory team for the project. That group included industry professionals from We Energies, Kumatsu, County Materials, as well as faculty and staff from MSOE and UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science.
While the virtual format was less than ideal, two things stood out across the presentations. All of the teams were able to leverage feedback and ideas from the conceptual design review UWM hosted in December to improve not just their designs, but their ability to talk through and communicate their design decisions. When asked by panelists about where they saw value in the experience, students consistently mentioned both the experience of figuring out how to work effectively as a team, and the opportunity to leverage and learn from outside experts.
Congratulations are due to all of the teams involved in the project. Thanks are also due to their teachers. Nothing interesting happens in a classroom without a teacher willing to say yes. Their willingness to involve their students in an open ended project, coordinate student participation in project events, and help their colleagues at other schools with ideas on how to manage project teams is the key ingredient in efforts like this.
Zoo Train Schools and Teachers
- Elmbrook Launch – Ryan Osterberg
- Golda Meir – Tina Gleason
- Menomonee Falls – Robert Regent-Smith
- New Berlin Eisenhower – Devin McKinnon
- New Berlin West – Bill Trudell
- Pathways High School – Angelique Byrne/Chris Kjaer
- St. Joan Antida – Cynthia McLinn/Melissa Peppler
- St. Thomas More – Emily Pirkl
- Wauwatosa East – Julibeth Favour
- West Allis Dottke – Bernie McCarthy