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Engagement in Practice: One Program’s Approach to Creating a Strong Network

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Meg West Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Meg West is a fourth year Civil Engineering undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. She is an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Engineering Education and a Toy Adaptation Program Intern at The Ohio State University.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching.

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Elizabeth Riter Ohio State University

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Elizabeth is currently in her 6th year as the Program Manager and Advisor for the Green Engineering Scholars Program at The Ohio State University. She graduated with her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Ohio State in 2007 and with her M.S. in Structural Engineering from Ohio State in 2013. She worked as a Structural Engineer for J.D. Stevenson & Associates in Chicago, IL for 2.5 years designing structural components within nuclear power plants in the midwest. In her current role, she teaches, mentors, and advises first and second year Ohio State engineering students in their pursuit of a degree and career in engineering.

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The Toy Adaptation Program (TAP) currently has partners in engineering and health, interested in profit and non-profit work, and who are individuals and organizations. This intricate network was developed over the last five years and brings together a variety of stakeholders interested in toy adaptation. Toy adaptation is the process of modifying an electronic toy for a child with a special need. TAP along with its community partners has been able to establish a presence in this space while serving others.

Currently, TAP facilitates a variety of workshops for students, families, and other stakeholders all interested in addressing the need for adapted toys. These workshops take many forms and have evolved over the years based on the recommendations and interests of our partners. To date, TAP has donated over 1,000 adapted toys.

In this paper, we will share our lessons learned through successes and failures related to TAP. For example, to establish our health related network, we had to reach beyond our professional networks leveraging personal connections in the health field that were not immediately obvious (i.e., asking a personal doctor to connect you to a potential future colleague). By sharing our lessons learned, we hope to aid others wishing to establish a strong network which includes many stakeholders. Through these collaborations true success is achieved and progress is made.

West, M., & Kajfez, R. L., & Riter, E. (2017, June), Engagement in Practice: One Program’s Approach to Creating a Strong Network Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28235

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