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    Go from Design to Build in the Next “Make It Big” Webinar

    Kellyanne Mahoney
    Published on - April 14, 2021 by Kellyanne Mahoney

    Teachers & Parents

    Credit_ Elizabeth Cote, Wentworth Institute of Technology

    “The world is not built for us.” This is the quote that inspired last month’s “Make It Big” webinar series guest, Emma Manning, a senior majoring in business management at Wentworth Institute of Technology, to reimagine inclusivity in gyms.

    Emma kicked off the “Ask an Engineer” episode by discussing her plans to kickstart her own venture post-graduation that provides sensory modified spaces for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder to feel welcomed and relaxed while they exercise.

    Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 12.27.01 PM

    Emma Manning presents her pitch for "My Muscle Connection," a gym designed around the needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    Register here for the next webinar.

    Emma’s presentation encapsulated how an engineering mindset can manifest itself in a variety of forms, while also illustrating a process other students could follow that includes visualizing, improving, systems thinking, adapting, and creative problem solving.

    Football star James Develin carried this theme further in discussing his studies as a mechanical engineering student at Brown University prior to joining the NFL. “I became fascinated with the engineering way of thinking,” said James, who was drawn into that discipline by way of his interest in the arts. He said that the engineering mindset isn’t limited to engineering projects, but that once you achieve it, it permeates “all facets of life and how you can make it better.”

    Episode 4, MIB, Develin clip

    You can watch the full episode here.

    This was the fourth episode in the series meant to expose students to careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through seminars, tutorials, and contests that immerse students in James’s real-life project of designing and building a gym. The purpose of this webinar was to offer an opportunity for students to ask questions to engineers regarding the task of helping James make his design work for the environment, the surrounding community, and for people with disabilities.

    The panel of engineers, including several from Boston’s Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, also told personal stories explaining what led them to engineering, for example, civil engineer Grady Granville, who grew up on the island of Tobago and was influenced by the challenges faced around the preservation of the natural environment and the overall maintenance of a safe habitat for wild and marine life in his homeland.

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    Engineers Brandon Cramer, Grady Granville, O'Dane White, and Carolyn Nguyen joined the panel.

    In addition to the problem of coastal degradation discussed by Grady, the other engineers also identified global issues that activate their engineering mindset, such as equitable access to clean water, making healthcare accessible for all, and improving education for under-resourced youth.

    “Even though my background is mechanical and hardware-focused, going forward I really want to invest in the younger generation, especially for underserved youth or anyone who lacks resources growing up,” said panelist Carolyn Nguyen, who works as an engine assembly and integration engineer for an aerospace company. “I really admire the new generation, Gen Z—right after I was born, so I’m not cool like a Gen Z—because they’re just so entrepreneurial and resourceful [and] very empathetic people. I believe that if we can create education that is more creative and helps empower students to develop their skills and become bolder thinkers with growth mindsets, how many more problem-solvers can we have in our world?”

    Read more about Carolyn’s story here.

    Develin quote

    James also asked questions to the panel related to managing his construction project.

    “As an entrepreneur right now, the biggest problem for me is delegating,” said James. “I think it stems from the last 10 years playing football - being the one being coached and then going out there and doing the work. I see a problem come up and I just want to do it myself.”

    At the start of the “Make It Big” webinar series, James invited students to use the design thinking process to help him reimagine what’s possible for health and fitness. James shared his vision for a new training and rehabilitation facility that inspires wellness through inventive uses of space. In response to the challenge, students played with ideas and submitted imaginative architectural designs meant to help James tell his story and describe his vision. Next, students used an engineering mindset and computational thinking to help James refine his vision.


    Image credit: Jorik Dammann. See Jorik's contest entry here.  

    Now, it is time to for students to evaluate the designs that have been submitted thus far to this contest and choose the one that they think is most fit to build.

    Tune in for the next live webinar “The Game Plan” on Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. EDT to hear James announce the winners of the most recent contest. He will also introduce the new challenge that asks students to develop a plan for how to construct the gym. In addition, students will learn how construction professionals are using new tools to drive a more sustainable, safe, and efficient industry.

    Visit for more information about the contest.

    Register here for the next webinar.