A team of students in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) collaborated with the Oregon State University Libraries and Press to design a mobile library outreach cart. With features that include a power station, lockable Plexiglas doors, laminate top, and waterproof design, the presentation station allows the library and OSU Press to participate in additional outreach and engagement activities.
“We could do a pop-up library in the quad or showcase the work we do at important events such as CONNECT Week, University Day, Beaver Fair, or any other relevant event that might take place outside our facility,” said Margaret Mellinger, the engineering librarian who served as the project client. Additionally, OSU Press — the sate’s only academic book publisher that is also housed in the library — can use the outreach cart to promote and sell their titles.
Project participants Taylor Southworth, Brandon Massoni, and Stephen Smith worked closely with Mellinger to implement design specifications, develop a budget, and ensure a timely and quality product. As a result, they gained a holistic view of what it takes to meet a client’s needs.
“The students were responsible and passionate about the work and quality of the project. They took it very seriously,” Mellinger said. “They not only had to design the cart, but source the materials, fabricate it, and stay on track and within budget.”
The students outfitted the cart with a number of unique specifications. Wheels allow for easy transport, yet the cart can still fit through a door. A marine battery can power a laptop for several hours, and lockable doors provide space to store valuable items, such as OSU Press books. In addition, the cart has a nice fit and finish with attractive, OSU-branded colors.
Besides a win-win collaboration, Mellinger said the project was an excellent opportunity for students to develop technical proficiencies and hands-on skills.
“It’s experiential learning at its best,” Mellinger said. “They are working in a team to meet the design specifications and also have to make sure the client is satisfied, much like in the real world.”
John Parmigiani, assistant professor in MIME and project mentor, agrees with Mellinger.
“Projects like the library outreach cart are great educational experiences for our students to learn and use the engineering design process,” he said. “Meeting with the project sponsor to establish requirements, assessing design alternatives, specifying a final design, building it, and testing it — all the elements were done well in this excellent project.”