I enrolled in this course for several reasons. I am very interested in applying what I have learned to create solutions outside the classroom, and I am passionate about creating a positive impact on the world around me. One of my favorite parts about being a mechanical engineering student is that as I learn more, I get better equipped to create new solutions to everyday problems, as well as gaining new methods for coming up with these solutions. I also am very curious to see how the field of mechanical engineering works in conjunction with other fields that are relevant to my project. I want to see how the “baton” gets passed from engineering to business and beyond, and this program is an excellent way of seeing this process in action. In addition, I enrolled in this course to be able to immerse myself in a real world problem solving environment and to be able to make the best use of such an experience early on in my college career.
I envision this course making me a better mechanical engineering student by providing me with unique problems to tackle as well as allowing me to create stronger connections to my peers and faculty members while I work on this project. So far in my academic pursuits an a mechanical engineering student in the college of engineering, I have had very little exposure to the “real world”. However I am sure that the Creative Inquiry project will grant me that exposure. The benefit of this experience is that not only will I be better prepared for what mechanical engineering will be like after I graduate, but I will also have a better understanding of how the knowledge that I gained in class applies to my future career as an engineer. Additionally, I hope to gain more effective communication, organization, and time management skills from my time as a member of the Project Plastikan project. Something that this course offers that engineering courses do not is the opportunity to interact with my peers who are not engineers: business students, arts students, and science students. Being able to communicate and collaborate effectively is an important life skill that can’t be honed when I only interact with students in similar fields as I.
I think that an important element to a good solution to help reduce the number of people without proper eye wear is to avoid creating a brand new solution from the ground-up, as this would require additional resources and energy compared to improving upon existing attempts to solve the problem. Upon further research, I have found that there are existing organizations dedicated to trying to solve this issue, such as OneSight and Eyes on Africa. I think that a good start to trying to solve this issue is to more closely study the shortcomings and successes of these groups to see where we can improvise and improve. A benefit to mimicking some of the strategies of an existing organization is that they have likely overcome many if not all of the obstacles that come with trying to engineer a solution to a problem from the ground-up. The startup costs, the distribution systems and other aspects of a large scale project are good benchmarks to measure one’s new solution by. Additionally, a possible solution to solve the issue of a lack of optometrists is to produce a cheap eyecare self-diagnosis kit that can be easily distributed to many people so that they can better understand what kind of care they require. These kits could include instructions on how to set up a simple eyesight exam to get an estimate on what kind of glasses are needed. A benefit to this idea is that these kits can be very cheap and easy to produce and distribute, and would prevent low income individuals from purchasing a pair of glasses that does not help their condition. Another benefit would be that people would not need to travel far and save up to pay to see an optometrist. Obviously, a limitation is that these kits would not be nearly as effective as actually seeing an eye care specialist, but I believe that this would serve as a much needed intermediary between those in need of glasses and the rare optometrist.
These hypothetical self-diagnosis kits would include a means of mailing/sending the relevant information on what kind of glasses are required and where they are required. With this, the kits would serve almost as sensors in the field, and would provide valuable information to organizations like OneSight and Eyes on Africa, information such as how many pairs of glasses need to be produced and where they are needed. This data can be used to figure out how to streamline the distribution process and as a result cut down on costs and increase of the affordability of glasses, thus giving more people access to glasses who need them.