Ford Supports Ohio State Student’s Efforts To Improve Community

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Ideas from engineering students at Ohio State University to help people deal with stress and turn unused urban land into community gardens were selected for funding as part of this year’s Ford College Community Challenge.

Each year, Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, invites students to develop and submit innovative project ideas that meet the needs of the community. This year, only 10 proposals were selected nationally to receive a $ 25,000 implementation grant – and two of those awards went to student organizations at the Ohio State College of Engineering.

The plan funded by the student organization Engineers Without Borders involves developing bilateral stimulation tappers for stress reduction or emotional management. During bilateral tactile stimulation, a user holds two objects that alternately vibrate and mimic REM sleep. The effect can promote emotional regulation and relaxation.

“Children, like younger ones, learn healthy habits for their mental health,” said Katie Vatke, vice president of local projects for Engineers Without Borders. “If you are younger, if you are able to learn to manage your stress and regulate your emotions appropriately, the better you will be able to deal with it in the future when more stressful things happen. “

Vatke said the organization will work with the community nonprofit Wellbeing Connection to provide bilateral stimulation kits to local middle and high school students.

“Using it before going to bed or while studying for an exam has been very helpful for a lot of people in reducing their stress levels,” said Vatke, an environmental engineering major in third year. “But the only way to get to them is if you have a lot of money, because they have sales people, but they’re very expensive. “

Megan Rock, a third-year electrical engineering major and project manager from Engineers Without Borders, said the kits have two additional advantages: – being.

The winning submission from Engineers for Community Service aims to tackle food insecurity by building community gardens in underserved areas. The team will use the grant funds to purchase lots at the Columbus Land Bank and work with neighbors and local schools to build and maintain the gardens.

Jacob Smith, a graduate in biochemistry, helped develop the proposal as a member of the student organization. He said the project is all about accessing healthier options.

“You might not have time to go to the local farmers market and, especially if it is out of season, you might not have the money to pay for good fresh produce as it costs expensive out of season, ”he said. .

Community Service Engineers will help purchase the community gardens and use various engineering disciplines to build and maintain them. Smith said the project may require expertise in everything from the environment to mechanical engineering.

Ohio State students have already won the Ford College Community Challenge. In 2018, Buckeye Precious Plastic won the award with a program that developed ways to recycle plastic and reduce plastic pollution. Last year, the Ohio State Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter (ACM-W) received a grant to develop and distribute computer starter kits to senior and junior high school children. .

In total, the Ford Fund has distributed more than $ 3 million in global grants to support nearly 200 student-led social projects as part of the Ford College Community Challenge.

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