YPSILANTI – Julie Becker, Associate Professor in the Fashion Marketing Innovation Program (FMI) and Acting Director of the EMU School of Professional Services Technology and Management at the College of Engineering and Technology, is working on the implementation of opportunities for hands-on learning of manufacturing operations in its computer-aided design. (CAD) so that students learn the methods of mass production and how to program and operate an industrial fabric cutter.
The last effort of his students? Cut 6.5 “x 6.5” squares of fabric that a group called Preemie Pals then turns into quilts for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mott Children’s Hospital. (Preemie Pals is a community outreach initiative of the Quilting Season quilt shop in Saline.) Becker was first introduced to the idea by her husband Mike Becker, who is a retired respiratory therapist / clinical care specialist at Mott Children’s Hospital. and current member of Kiwanis, which supports the Preemie Pals project.
Becker immediately knew she could use it as a learning opportunity for students, and a chance to do something good for the NICU babies and their families.
With an industrial fabric cutter, Becker and his students are able to perfectly cut approximately 600 squares in about five minutes, which means they have cut approximately 10,000 multi-fabric squares in total for the quilting effort to date. .
The initiative teaches students how to input the correct math / geometry into the CAD system to cut fabric and how to program a CNC (computer numerical control) machine for mass production. Additionally, students are rewarded for the role they play in providing comfort to NICU babies and their families.
The fabric is donated by members or the community and purchased with grant money. Once the squares are cut from the fabric, they are delivered to the volunteer Preemie Pals quilters to be made into quilts, then donated to the NICU to be placed on the incubators. Quilts help dampen machine noise and cut out much of the bright lighting. When the babies leave the NICU to go home, families can then take the quilt with them.
“Being able to provide my students with hands-on learning opportunities while helping the community is a wonderful thing,” said Becker. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
The Preemie Pals project started in 2012 with a few dozen quilts and the volunteer effort has now grown to produce over 1,700 quilts in 2020. They even make quilts in different sizes for babies and older children who come for surgery in the pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit. in Mott. The group also manufactures small “scent squares” for use in the NICU. A few drops of breast milk allows the baby to be calmed by the familiar scent while in the isolette.
To learn more about the Fashion Marketing and Innovation program, visit IMF home page.
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Founded in 1849, Eastern is Michigan’s second oldest public university. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctorate and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In total, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are awarded by the colleges of arts and sciences of the University; Business; Education; Engineering and technology; Health and social services; and, his graduate school. UEM is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity and commitment to applied education. For more information on Eastern Michigan University, visit the university website.