A More Accessible Community: Texas A&M Students Design Braille And Campus Maps
Thanks to the mind of one bright mechanical engineering student, Tyler Wooten ’19, all students and campus visitors can better navigate the Texas A&M University campus through a 3-D and braille map located at the southeast entrance of the Memorial Student Center.
Wooten came up with the idea after taking a 3-D printing pop-up class at the Engineering Innovation Center (EIC) during his freshman year. The EIC is an campus facility where engineering students have access to state-of-the-art technology to help them create concepts and build protoypes to help solve real-world problems.
Wooten worked with Tracey Forman, assistant director of Disability Services, who put him in contact with Kaitlyn Kellermeyer ’17. Kellermeyer is a Texas A&M senior studying economics, who lost vision in her left eye from a genetic condition called incontinentia pigmenti when she was two years old and began to lose vision in her right eye during her freshman year of college. Kellermeyer and Wooten discussed the idea, and he moved forward with designs and production.
Wooten began by designing a handheld prototype using a solid modeling computer software called SolidWorks. He used Texas A&M’s campus map to ensure all the buildings were the right distance and shape. Ten hours later, he showed the prototype to Kellermeyer, who was thrilled with the design. He then designed a large-scale 3-D map with more details to be located in the MSC.
Wooten partnered with Russell Geyer ’19, a mechanical engineering major, and Ashlyn Pedersen ’19, who is studying telecommunications. The team worked on a special layout and design that would make the map accessible to all. Small 3-D models represent campus buildings and other structures, while directions and other details are printed in braille. The platform on which the 3-D map sits is tilted at an angle that makes it easily accessible for people using wheelchairs.
Wooten approached MSC President Bryan O’Hara with the idea of the 3-D braille map, and the pair reached out to the Public Display Committee, which is part of University Center & Special Events.
“We like to be ahead of the curve at Texas A&M.” said Judy Marrs, associate director of University Center & Special Events. “We like to be innovative and pave the way for others.”
The team wants to keep this map updated as the university changes, which is why they have started a nonprofit called Assistive Mapping Project. Wooten hopes to get students involved at other universities to design 3-D maps of their own campuses.
“We are trying to create more maps for other campuses,” said Wooten, “Ideally, we would have a scholarship program in which students can learn how to create maps, get a good experience for their resume, and receive a small scholarship for their work”
To learn more about the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story by Athlyn Allen originally appeared on the Student Affairs website.