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Adjusting to Coronavirus

From the beginning, our approach has been to give educators and folks from the broader community the chance to come together to explore and move forward ideas about how to engage students in meaningful collaborative work that builds connections across Milwaukee’s many silos.  We also recognized that the best way to build the relationships and  trust that allows effective collaboration is for people to have the chance to meet and work together in person.

Unfortunately, this in-person, network focused approach to the spread of ideas is just what we don’t want in this time of cornoavirus. We’re making a number of adjustments to keep things moving forward while keeping our network and the students they work with safe.

Collab Labs

Collab Lab 34: Tapping industry expertise will be held as a Twitter chat at #CollabLabChat on Thursday April 9th from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

Collab Lab 35: Re/connect has been postponed to Thursday August 13th

Zoo Train Challenge

Review sessions at the UWM and Marquette’s 3D visualization labs, as well as the the session scheduled with Operating Engineers Local 420 have been cancelled.

The final design review scheduled for April 28th at MSOE has also been cancelled. We will work with the Milwaukee County Zoo and participating schools to explore alternatives for students to share their designs to rework the coal handling process for the Zoo’s steam locomotives.

Fabrication of a new water tower for the Zoo’s steam locomotives based on the designs from last year’s challenge has been postponed until fall.

MPS STEM Studio

The STEM Studio sessions with MPS teachers working to design real world projects that engage students in computational thinking are on hold until teachers return to work.

Making use of this time

We’re exploring opportunities to help keep things moving for you. Let us know what challenges you see ahead and let’s see if we can’t find some new opportunities out of the present chaos, in our one question survey here.

UWM Hosts Zoo Train Design Review

This past Friday, UWM’s College of Engineering hosted the conceptual design review for students in this year’s Zoo Train Challenge. Teams from 10 area schools presented their ideas to re-work the coal handling process for the Zoo’s steam locomotives.

The Zoo’s current process has train staff manually sift coal into 17 gallon buckets that may weigh 80 to 90 pounds when full. These are then carried over an often slippery, uneven surface where they are staged for use later in the day. When the train stops at the depot to take on passengers, the train crew will hoist and dump these bucket’s into the train’s coal bin, which is close to four feet above ground level. The train team is also concerned with the deteriorating condition of the coal bin and a retaining wall against which coal ash and fines are stored prior to removal.

New Berlin Eisenhower students present their design concepts. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

At this point in the process, most teams focused on the design of a new coal bin that could keep the coal sheltered from rain, and automating or augmenting the process of sifting and loading coal. Teams presented their designs to review panels that included zoo train operators, staff from We Energies coal handing facility, students and faculty from industrial engineering programs at UWM and MSOE, and engineers with GZA Environmental and Komatsu.

  • Elmbrook Launch

Following each presentation, teams responded to questions and feedback from both panelists and peers from other teams. Both panelists and students in the audience for other presentations also provide written feedback for each team.

Golda Meir students provide feedback on presentation by their peers . (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Students will use the feedback and ideas they gained from this session to finalize their designs. The final design review for the project will be hosted by MSOE at the end of April.

Nothing interesting happens in a classroom without a teacher willing to say yes, so we are extremely grateful to the teachers who stepped up to get their students involved. Thanks also to all those who helped pull both the project and review session together, and of course, the students who have taken on the challenge!

UWM has a brief write-up of the event here: https://uwm.edu/news/gallery/milwaukee-area-students-create-solutions-for-zoo-train/

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

Zoo Train Challenge – Conceptual Design Review

Teams participating in our challenge to design a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the Zoo’s steam locomotives presented their concepts at MSOE on Monday.  We have more than 65 students involved, representing ten teams from six high schools.  Given the number of students involved, we ran parallel sessions for the reviews, with each team presenting before a panel that included civil engineers from Excel and MSOE, experts in railroad history from The Center for Railway Photography & Art and the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (our partner in this effort), and the staff which maintain and operate the Zoo’s train.

We asked teams to cover, not only their designs, but how they organized their efforts, alternatives they considered, and where they need additional help.  Students from Elmbrook’s media program stepped up to record all of the presentations for students and teachers to review.

After a short break for lunch we pulled everyone back together for a recap session with all of the reviewers.  That provided an opportunity for the panelists to summarize what they saw in their session within a few broad themes.  One of the most interesting things for us was to see the different ways schools with larger groups organized their teams– by functional area of the tower, expertise of the team, member, or into smaller teams who would each produce a design concept.  We used the recap session to engage students and teachers in a discussion of how that worked and what it felt like over the course of the semester.

We’re pulling the teachers together next week for a debrief to guide adjustments we’ll want to make as we go into the detailed design phase next semester. That work will begin and end with visits to UWM– first, for a chance to play in UWM’s structures lab, and, on May 2nd, for the detailed design review where the review panelists will select an approach to be fabricated and installed.

We are very grateful to MSOE for hosting the event and working with us to get everything in place.  They provided a beautiful setting with the 4th floor conference area inside the Grohmann Tower.

The Journal Sentinel was also on hand to cover the event. You can find their write up here.

Zoo Train Challenge: Advisers & Mentors

Why Advisers and Mentors?

One of the goals of this initiative is to help schools and students build connections to individuals in the wider community that can not only help with the project, but help students understand what a career in industry may look like, and how they might get there.  We’re pulling together a team of Advisers and Mentors for this purpose, but will let schools decide how they can best make use of those resources.

Industry Advisers

Industry Advisers will either work with an individual teacher to support a school team, or join a pool of experts who can provide support for technical questions on an ad hoc basis.  We ask that advisers join us for a kick-off event at the Zoo, the conceptual design review in early December, and the detailed design review in April of 2020. Throughout the project, Learn Deep will meet monthly with teams from each school to hear what the team has been able to accomplish, what they’re struggling with, and how they plan to address those concerns.  We encourage Industry Advisers to attend at least one of these sessions each semester.

For this project, a civil, industrial, mechanical or environmental engineering background is a plus.

If you’d like to join the effort as an industry adviser, please let us know.

Near-Peer Mentors

We’re looking to connect our high school teams with engineering and construction students from partners in higher-ed– MSOE, UWM, Marquette, MATC, and WCTC.  We encourage near-peer mentors to attend the kick off and design review events.  We don’t expect near-peer mentors to travel to the school to which they are assigned.  Near-peer mentors will work out a preferred method of communication and frequency of interaction with their school team.

Zoo Train Challenge

What if Milwaukee area students designed and built a new steam locomotive for the Zoo?

Well, you can’t start by simply building a new steam engine, but you could prototype a process with a simpler project. We’re working with Coalition for Sustainable Rail, the Milwaukee County Zoo and partners from higher-ed and industry to develop a series of engineering challenges for area high schools.

Over the 2018-19 school year we had teams from 6 area high schools working to design a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the steam locomotive. Teams shared their design decisions and approach to the project at a conceptual design review hosted by MSOE in December, and moved on to detailed design in the spring semester. In May, UWM hosted a final design review where our team of reviewers from the Zoo, CSR, GRAEF, and CG Schmidt selected an approach to move forward with.  That design was the focus of a summer workshop at UWM to produce detailed design drawings.

Along the way, university and industry partners have stepped up to offer on-campus experiences to student teams that helped inform their designs.

This fall, additional schools are joining the effort to fabricate and assemble the components for the water tower and take on the next challenge, dealing with the awkward process now used to sift and load coal for the locomotives.

Who’s Involved

Schools

We’re working with a mix of city and suburban schools, including Bay View High School, Brown Deer High School, Carmen High School, Elmbrook’s Launch Program, Franklin High School, Menomonee Falls High School, Messmer High School, New Berlin’s High School, Obama High School, and St. Joan Antida.  We are delighted to have not only their participation but their support and ideas in developing the process.

Want to get your school involved?  Let us know.

Higher-ed Partners

We are grateful for the support of our higher-ed partners who are providing access to their expertise, facilities, and students to help our school teams.


Support the Initiative

Become an Adviser or Mentor

We’re putting together a pool of industry advisers from area firms and near-peer mentors from local universities to help student teams.  For details, look here.

Become a sponsor

We’re looking to cover roughly half the project costs through local funding.  If you’d like to help sponsor the project contact us and we can walk you through the options–  let us know.

Share your expertise

We’re working with other local partners to set up opportunities for schools to tap their expertise, through school based, or on-site workshops.  If you have an idea about how your company or organization might be able to help, let us know.