Reed Boeger at ReSEARCH Dialogues

Dr. Wigal during her elevator speech at Spring 2017 ReSEARCH Dialogues

  • Chemical Engineering sophomore Reed Boeger took first place in the Lightning Round Presentation Competition in UTC’s Second Annual ReSEARCH Dialogues.  The highly successful two-day long event held in April highlighted the research initiatives of the University’s students and faculty, showcasing the scholarship and creative accomplishments of over 300 participants. With the support of his research advisor, Dr. Bradley Harris, Boeger shared his work entitled, “Studying Vibrio Cholerae Adaptations to Improve Cholera Prevention.”  UC Foundation Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department Dr. Cecelia Wigal brought home both first place honors in the Health Division of the Faculty Elevator Speech Competition and the overall Grand Prize in that division for her presentation entitled, “Communicating for Independence.”  The continued research activities by Boeger and Wigal will be supported by funding and, in Dr. Wigal’s case, the hiring of a part-time graduate assistant.


  • Dr. Wigal’s work in engineering design and her heart for discovering innovations and adaptations to assist persons who face developmental learning  and/or physical challenges have been the foci of her research for several years. These research areas have also become integral parts of the College’s design courses, commitment to community outreach, and the annual Design and Research Showcase.  During the spring semester, the collaborative work of our students and faculty in engineering design with not-for- profits in  the community, including Signal Centers, Soddy and Spring Creek Elementary Schools, and the Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center, resulted in over thirty new adaptive products including an oversized light board, stationary rocking chair,  wheel chair busy board, and adapted art desk and table for use by special needs students including those with autism and cerebral palsy.

Art student Ashley Smith designed a simple prototype called a “Mouthstick Tool” for artists who can’t use their hands.

  • Art for All was a new UTC initiative combining two subjects – Engineering and Art –  which are not always the first to come to mind when pondering potential collaborations. When these two areas, key to the human experience, team up to help disabled children and adults to express themselves, a bit of “magic” happens. In the Art for All project CECS engineering students designed devices to help people with disabilities create their artwork. At the same time, art students helped the artists figure out how to take what was in their heads and bring it into the real world.  Dr. Wigal led the College’s efforts, and noted that, “the art and engineering students came together to brainstorm solutions and to understand the tools and materials needed for persons with disabilities to take was in their heads and bring it into the real world.”  In assisting artists with physical and mental disabilities, some with limited use of their arms and heads, the students were called upon to look anew at the realities and problems that many of those around us face in their everyday lives.  The CECS students had seven weeks to design and create the adaptive devices, and to meet with the artists to test the effectiveness of their designs.  The “magic” happened –  visual art by those who have never before had the opportunity to create works of art.  Looking ahead to future experiential learning opportunities for our students to collaborate with others in meeting real world problems, Dr. Wigal said, “we hope to add projects that will help individuals participate in the performing arts.”

In addition to Reed Boeger and Dr. Wigal, the “winners” in these efforts are the community partners and the persons whose lives are enriched via the applied research of the students and faculty of CECS.  Their hard work in fulfillment of the College’s commitment to community service is greatly appreciated by all.

1 Comment » for Chem E Student Reed Boeger and Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Cecelia Wigal – Win Big for CECS and the Extended Community in ReSEARCH Dialogues, Design Showcase, and Art For All
  1. Melvin Flowers says:

    Dr. Wigel is one of the most commited persons I have ever met and she has a true desire to not only teach her students how to think logically and professionally but she teaches engineering design and responsibility to the good of humankind which is at the heart of what engineering is all about. Thank you for your commitment to the community and the university.

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