Engineering Students Construct Sensory Pod For Autistic Children

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - by Cheryl Toomey, University Relations graduate assistant
Engineering Students
Engineering Students

Autistic children often suffer from overstimulation, particularly from sights and sounds. Five UTC engineering students – Cassidy Craven, Jimmy DePrimo, Jeremy Stewart, Drew Bennett, and Christopher Jones – have come up with a solution to this problem for one therapy center.

The sensory pod is designed to provide autistic children a place to escape sensory overload and calm down prior to their therapy appointments, which allows them to be more focused.

“I thought this would be an interesting project.

Being able to build something to help someone else is pretty cool. I’ve enjoyed it,” said Mr. DePrimo.

The pod has inner and outer walls made of plywood with insulation in between to muffle sound. The interior of the pod is padded for safety and the top is removable, so that the therapist has easy access to the child. The inside of the pod is covered in marine vinyl, which is waterproof, and is attached with Velcro, so that it can be easily removed and cleaned.

“I think the hardest part was trying to understand the world from their perspective. We had to design this for those kids, and it took quite a bit of brainstorming to figure out what they would need and where they were coming from. That was definitely a learning experience,” said Mr. Stewart.

The team experienced an unexpected hurdle when the therapy center they were originally designing the sensory pod for closed. It took them approximately a week to find a new recipient for their sensory pod. This new therapy center was still under construction, which meant that the team had to alter their initial designs for the sensory pod. Because the new recipients did not know where exactly the sensory pod would go, the team had to make the design smaller and more mobile.

Out of their $400 budget, the team managed to spend only $380.

“We did come in under budget, thankfully. We were fortunate enough to get a $25 gift card from Home Depot, and there were some materials that we were able to repurpose from things we had around our houses to bring in to use, so that helped.” said Mr. Stewart. “I think it turned out pretty good. I’m glad we worked so hard on it.”


Jim Daughdrill '05 Named McCallie Dean Of Admission

Jim Daughdrill will take over on July 1 as dean of Admission at McCallie School.  Mr. Daughdrill, a 2005 graduate of McCallie who currently serves as director of Boarding Admission, takes over for Troy Kemp, who has been appointed executive director for the National Center for the Development of Boys based at McCallie.  “Even when I was a student here, I always thought ... (click for more)

Lee To Offer Free ESL Camp For Kids

The Lee University English Language Center will offer a free ESL (English as a Second Language) camp for rising 1st – 6th grade students, July 11-15 from 9 a.m.–2:45 p.m., in the Walker Memorial Building on Lee’s campus.  The camp will focus on the development of writing, reading, speaking and listening skills through interactive crafts and activities.  All non-native ... (click for more)

County Commission Gives Up Fight On $900,000 In Discretionary Funds

County Commission members have given up the fight for the annual $900,000 in discretionary funds. Commission Chairman Chester Bankston said there was not enough money available after requests from a number of agencies and departments were cut to balance the budget without a tax increase. Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said the fact that commissioners can no longer allot the ... (click for more)

Bridge Repair Over 12th Street To Cause Temporary Lane Closure On US 27

While investigating a pothole in the existing bridge on U.S. 27 North over 12 th Street in the construction zone, crews discovered a potential weak spot in the bridge deck that could over time result in more damage to the bridge deck.  For the safety of the traveling public, the outside lane in this area will be closed until the contractor makes necessary repairs, TDOT ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (2)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What You Leave Behind

Randy Travis, one of the best at singing country songs that has ever been, had a song about three people who got killed when an 18-wheeler missed a stop sign. There was a farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher on this bus and Randy tells us: “One's headed for vacation, one for higher education, An' two of them were searchin' for lost souls.” In that wonderful song, the ... (click for more)