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									“Accessibility at the Bronx
 Zoo: Semester Report.”

               Team 5
Christina Nicholis: Primary Facilitator
  Laura Martin: Process Observer
    Jonathan Chim: Videographer
   Kerem Oral: Conflict Manager
       Zeke Miller: Timekeeper
  Jack McGourty, Ph.D. Associate Dean for
           Undergraduate Studies
                Promiti Dutta
                Jose Sanchez
                Alex Haubold
              Kathryn Cizewski
                 Justin Foster
                  Connie Shi
                 Dana Vlcek
Andrea Mott, Client and ADA Specialist/Expert

                      th
          July 27 , 2005
                                                          2


                  TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section 1: Executive Summary

Section 2: Project Description
  Subsection A: Gateway Course
  Subsection B: Team Organization
  Subsection C: Client and Project Description
  Subsection D: Initial Problem
  Subsection E: Functional Requirements and Constraints
  Subsection F: Design Evolution

Section 3: Translation Plan and Project Documentation

Section 4: Conclusions and Recommendations

Section 5: Appendices/Resources
  Appendix A: Team Member Reflections
  Appendix B: Team Process Description
  Resource A: Project Resources
  Appendix C: Gantt Chart
                                                                                           3

                               1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) is an act that requires certain public places to be
specially equipped for persons with all types of disabilities. The ADA has guidelines and
regulations that these locations must follow in order to be ADA approved. The Bronx
Zoo is a very popular location, which follows these ADA guidelines. This summer, the
Columbia University Summer High School Program for the Engineering Design class
was assigned the task of developing ideas in order to make the Bronx Zoo and several of
its attractions more accessible to persons with all types of disabilities. These projects
include redesigning the Zoo Shuttle and the Gondola. Team 5 was assigned the task of
designing a way for a physically disabled person, specifically persons on wheelchairs, to
ride a camel at the Bronx Zoo’s Camel Ride attraction. Each of the 9 teams also were
required to develop a self-defined project, and ours was to redesign the World of Reptiles
in order to make it more accessible to persons with physical, visual, and auditory
disabilities.

The team started out slowly, with several random, unconnected ideas being thought up
that still needed much work. Research was done on different disabilities as well as basic
information, such as facts about camels and wheelchairs. As the week progressed, the
team began to work better together, and began listening carefully to one another’s ideas.
Soon, all the ideas started to fit together, and basic designs were gradually forming.
Restrictions, such as money, time, and safety, were all taken into consideration, and after
playing around with the Maya Design Software, a final design was produced for both the
Camel Rides and the House of Reptiles.

The Camel Ride is an attraction that is only accessible to those who are fully physically
capable. Our job was to change this, and we designed a saddle that allowed persons who
normally needed to use wheelchairs to be able to ride the camels comfortably and safely.
As for the World of Reptiles, our team developed ideas that allowed persons with
physical, visual, and auditory disabilities to have a better and more informative visit to
the World of Reptiles, such as floors lights, raised platforms, and an easier to use
entrance ramp.

As for general conclusions and recommendations concerning the Bronx Zoo and its
accessibility, our team thinks that the projects being done by the nine teams are great
steps towards allowing nearly anyone have an enjoyable visit to the zoo. While some
projects, such as the Camel Ride attraction, are not very practical and will not necessarily
improve the zoo, there are others, such as the Gondola and the Zoo Shuttle that will
greatly improve the Bronx Zoo. Much attention should be paid to these various concerns
and with time and effort the Bronx Zoo will only improve.
                                                                                             4



                              2. PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Gateway Course

The Gateway course for High School students is a design class taught in order to
introduce students to the world of engineering design. The course involves a service-
learning program as well as engineering lectures, presentations, and software lectures.
The first week consisted of introductions to students, teachers, and engineering, as well as
team assignments. Each team was to assign their members to a specific role: Primary
Facilitator, Process Observer, Videographer, Conflict Manager, and Timekeeper.

Once the class was broken into nine teams of five people each, we were introduced to our
course assignment. The class was supposed to develop new and creative designs in order
to make the Bronx Zoo a more accessible place to persons with all sorts of disabilities.
Each team got an assigned project as well as the instruction to come up with their own,
self-defined project. Trips to the Bronx Zoo and meetings with our clients helped us all
brainstorm ideas that we eventually developed into final designs. All of this research and
activity was mixed in with informative lectures given by members of each division of the
School of Engineering, as well as other lectures, such as how to make a formal
presentation and information on the college application process.

Another aspect of this program was learning how to properly use the software known as
Maya. Maya is a design software that is used by many different types of business, and is
very useful in engineering. The students were taught the basics of this helpful program
and were then expected to use their knowledge of Maya to create renditions of their fully
developed designs. Using this software to portray each teams design ideas will help to
give a thorough understanding of what each team accomplished and will help the
improvement of the Bronx Zoo.

Finally, the end result of the Gateway course is a final presentation to the class and the
clients of each team’s ideas, as well as a video, which documents each group’s progress,
teamwork, and development. These presentations will be formally presented and will
summarize the month’s worth of work done by the students.

Team Organization

The roles decided upon by Team 5 are as follows:
Christina Nicholis - Primary Facilitator
Laura Martin - Process Observer
Jonathan Chim - Videographer
Kerem Oral - Conflict Manager
Zeke Miller - Timekeeper
Christina, the Primary Facilitator, is in charge of making sure that the team knows what
exactly needs to be done, and she is also in charge of making necessary contact with
teachers and teacher’s assistants. Her role as the team leader is important to the unity and
                                                                                            5

progress of the team themselves, as well as the development that the team makes on their
project. Laura, the Process Observer, is in charge of observing the teamwork of the
members of the team, as well as the progress made upon the project designs. She must be
good at human observation as well as attentive to what is being accomplished and how.
Jonathan, the Videographer, is in charge of documenting the team on video camera, and
his final task will be to create a ten minute video which will represent the month that the
team spent together, and what they accomplished during this time. Kerem, the Conflict
Manager, is in charge of settling any problems that may arise within the team. He must
be able to calmly talk through any situation and have skills in order to peacefully settle
disputes. Zeke, the Timekeeper, is in charge of making sure the team stays on track and
does not get distracted by outside issues. He must be focused and able to stay on track.
Having these designated roles helps the team accomplish what needs to be accomplished
and allows well-thought out designs to be created.

Client and Project Description

Our client, the Bronx Zoo, is an extremely popular New York Zoo that is visited by
many, many people each year. Zoos can be fun for anyone and everyone, but the matter
of accessibility is often a problem when considering persons with specific disabilities.
The Bronx Zoo has asked us to help them design attractions that will be accessible to
persons with different types of disabilities. As we learned at our client meeting at the
Bronx Zoo, the zoo has been focusing upon their problem of accessibility for years, and
continues to keep disabled persons in mind as they try to improve their attractions and
facilities. The client hopes that our designs will further help them make the Bronx Zoo
more and more accessible to persons with specific disabilities.

Initial Problem

The problem that we were initially presented with was the improvement upon the Bronx
Zoo concerning accessibility for the disabled. More specifically, we were expected to
design a way for physically disabled persons, specifically wheelchair users, to ride the
camels at the zoo’s popular Camel Ride attraction. Furthermore, our self-defined
problem was to improve the World of Reptiles. The dark building with the difficult-to-
use wheelchair ramp was an attraction that did not fully satisfy the needs of those who
may have visual, auditory, or physical disabilities, and our problem was to fix that
situation.

Functional Requirements and Constraints

Our team, as did all the other teams, came across many requirements and constraints that
were needed to take into consideration throughout the development of our designs. Some
of these were design-related, while others were unfortunate, unavoidable instances.

Requirements relating to our design included safety, practicality, and accessibility. The
saddle used on the Camel Ride must of course be safe for the rider, and this was a
requirement that we certainly paid attention to during the development of our design
                                                                                        6

ideas. We also needed to consider the safety of the camel. The amount of weight that a
camel could safely carry and comfort for the camel were researched and we used this
acquired knowledge when creating our saddle design. Safety was also important in
designing our new and improved World of Reptiles. Floor lights must be safely covered
to avoid heat or fire accidents, and the animals’ well being were also considered.
Practicality was another requirement that our team focused upon. A practical saddle was
necessary for the Camel Ride project, because a complex, heavy design would be
difficult to use and could be hard for the camel to handle. We were also practical in our
designs for the World of Reptiles. We knew it would be impractical to lower the viewing
windows to aid wheelchair users in seeing the reptiles, so we decided upon a raised floor
in front of the windows for practical reasons. An obvious requirement that we had to
consider was accessibility. For example, instead of just making the camel itself
accessible to wheelchair users, we also need to design a way for the person to get up to
the boarding platform in the first place. Therefore, we designed a wheelchair ramp to
make the ride accessible. We found a similar problem in the World of Reptiles. Not only
did we want to make the inside of the building accessible, we noticed that the ramp to the
building was very difficult to use, so we decided to redesign the ramp as well.

As well as considering requirements, our team had to consider constraints. Some
unavoidable constraints we ran into were time, skill, knowledge, and scheduling. We had
less than four weeks to come up with a design, which is a constraint that strongly limits
the possibilities that we could have reached if more time was provided. Skill, such as
Maya skills, was another constraint, seeing that many of the group members had never
used a program such as Maya and our lack of skill made designing our projects difficult.
Knowledge of the seven disabilities also constrained us in our designs, however
researching these disabilities helped very much in our understanding of the projects.
Lastly, only three of the team members were residential students, while two were
commuters, therefore making it difficult to plan meetings in order to improve and work
upon our designs.

Aside from the above constraints, we ran into some design- and project-related
constraints as well. We must consider a budget when designing our projects, and this
constraint forced us to think simply and avoid coming up with extravagant ideas that
could have possibly cost too much money to create. Another constraint, concerning the
Camel Ride project was the fact that we cannot alter the camel itself, and we must
consider the weight constraints that the camel can handle when designing our saddle.
Another constraint related to the Camel Ride project is that the Bronx Zoo would not
allow a wheelchair to be placed onto the camel, so we had to think of a saddle that could
act as a wheelchair so the person riding the camel received proper support. A constraint
related to the World of Reptiles was the fact that we could not lower the display windows
in order to allow persons on wheelchairs to see into the windows. We had to find a way
to raise the floor instead.
                                                                                            7




Design Evolution

When defining the problems with which we were presented, our team thought about the
things that made each attraction inaccessible to certain persons with specific disabilities.
We then had to develop a statement for each project that fully defined what it was that we
were going to attempt to fix with each attraction at the Bronx Zoo. For the Camel Ride
project, we identified the fact that the boarding platform itself was not yet equipped with
a ramp that would allow wheelchair users to access the platform. We also observed that
there was no existing saddle at the zoo that allowed a wheelchair user to ride the camels
safely and comfortably. Using these observations, we developed a problem statement
and declared our goal to fix these problems. For the World of Reptiles, we noticed that
the viewing windows were too high for someone on a wheelchair to see into, and the
ramp in front of the building was very difficult to go up on a wheelchair. We also
observed how dark the building was and how someone with visual impairments would
have difficulty at this attraction. We also wanted to enhance the building to appeal more
to those with auditory disabilities. So, after collecting these observations, we developed a
problem statement that addressed these issues and declared our aspiration to fix these
problems.

After we developed our problem statements, we all got together and began to brainstorm
and think up ideas that would help us to design an approach to each problem that would
fulfill our goals of accessibility. For the Camel Ride project, we thought of many
different ways to get a wheelchair onto the camel itself, such as sliding platforms,
swinging chairs, folding bars, straps that secured the wheelchair wheels, and suspending
a chair between two side-by-side camels. However, for one reason or another, these
ideas were filtered out and we finally came up with our solution after researching
horseback saddles used for wheelchair users. We designed a similar saddle but altered it
in order to satisfy the physical characteristics of a camel. For the World of Reptiles, we
had instant ideas that we soon further developed into a final design. We thought of
lowering windows, which then we changed to raising floors for economic and practical
reasons. We thought of lighting the building, but in order to maintain the ambiance of the
exhibit, we decided to place lights on the floors in order to help those with visual
disabilities. We wanted to enhance the visit to the World of Reptiles for those with visual
and auditory disabilities, so we decided upon designing information plaques with large,
raised lettering, as well as Braille and tactile experiences. We also thought of having
informative recordings that can be activated by pressing a button.

After all of our ideas were thought up in our heads and briefly sketched out on paper, we
began our Maya renderings of our designs. We tried many times and each time our
designs got better and better. Our final designs on Maya closely represented our ideas
and exhibited what we thought would greatly improve the Bronx Zoo.

We present the design via Power Point Presentation, and these designs consist of
drawings on paper as well as renderings on the Maya software. Our Gantt chart (shown
                                                                                          8

in Section 5, Appendix C) helps to fully allow understanding of our design progress and
development.
                                                                                     9

        3. TRANSITION PLAN AND PROJECT DOCUMENTATION

If a new project were identified, a proper approach to working with the Bronx Zoo
would be to physically go to the specific attraction or exhibit and thoroughly observe
the area which the team would be redesigning or building upon. Identifying existing
problems definitely helps to develop a problem statement and allows the team to set
their goals, which are to hopefully improve upon these problems or eliminate them, if
possible. After this observation process, extensive brainstorming is a good approach
to coming up with new ideas, and accepting all ideas helps to incorporate creativity
with the design being thought up. Proper and formal presentation of all ideas and
accepting of constructive criticism is a good way to communicate with the client and
allows thorough portrayal of ideas as well as the introduction of further possible
improvements.

A study of this team’s Gantt Chart would definitely help another team duplicate the
design process that Team 5 successfully went through. This Gantt Chart can be found
in Section 5, Appendix C.

To use and maintain the Camel Ride solution, one must understand how to strap the
saddle onto the camel correctly, and also how to securely strap the person into and out
of the saddle so that safety is assured. A well-trained person or the wheelchair user’s
caretaker must perform the proper transition of the persons from the wheelchair to the
saddle in order to avoid accidental injury. The World of Reptiles does not need to be
used in a specific manner but proper maintenance will assure that the new designs
will remain safe and intact.
                                                                                    10

               4. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

By the end of the four weeks, Team 5 has accomplished a lot and has developed
many useful ideas. We have managed to come up with a realistic design for a saddle
to be used at the Camel Ride attraction, as well as brainstorming ideas that are
intended to improve the accessibility of the World of Reptiles, such as designs that
improve the exhibit for persons with auditory or visual disabilities. We have also
managed to render these ideas and bring them to life using the Maya design software.
The team used their extensive research sessions and the information that they found
in order to accomplish these goals, and while improvements are welcome, the designs
are generally in the last stages of design.

The client and future design teams must keep in mind generally the same things that
our team did. Safety is a very important issue that must be considered when actually
building the designs that we have come up with or even improving upon our designs.
The client and future teams must also be aware of the background research that our
team has done. All the designs we have developed are based upon research that we
have done on different disabilities, as well as research on things like camels,
wheelchairs, etc. Therefore, any alterations or additions to our designs would have to
be a result of the knowledge of the research we have done in order to keep the same
principles of the design.
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                         5. APPENDICES/RESOURCES

Team Member Reflections

Christina Nicholis:
I feel that I have not walked away from this experience empty handed. I learned
things about myself as well as how to interact with others in a group setting, not to
mention the materials that were taught. At first I tried to assume a leadership position
by becoming primary facilitator. I knew from past experiences that I am very
opinionated and like to get involved in many different aspects of a project. At first
we all just sat back open to each other’s ideas trying to figure out our group’s
strengths and weaknesses. I was very excited to see the ideas start pouring in. We all
influenced each other and came up with ideas none of us could have thought of on our
own. Everything was going fine until it came time to make a decision on which
design to use. Everyone was just as stubborn as myself wanting to use his or her
ideas or to make modification. I was relieved that we came to a solution without a
fight breaking out. When it came to designing our ideas on Maya we all took charge
assigning ourselves work that reflected our strong points. In the end we all came
together and impressed ourselves as to how well our project came out with our
limited resources.

Jonathan Chim:
When class first started 3 weeks ago I felt scared. Scared because I didn’t know what
to expect from this class. Was it going to be fun, easy, hard, all work, etc. After the
introductions of the teachers and expectations of the class I felt more relaxed because
I knew what the expectations were for this class. When I volunteered to be the
videographer of the group I really didn’t know anything about movie editing. It
turned out to be a really fun experience.

Laura Martin:
When I finished my junior year in High School in June, I joked that I was just about
to go to school again in July. However, this experience was far from school. The
workload was far less than I expected; I was the only girl in my suite that never had
homework. While the program was a little less hardcore than I’d hoped for, I learned
how to work well with people that I did not necessarily agree with on everything.
Tolerance is probably the only thing that I got out of this program, and while it’s a
good thing to have, it wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped to walk away with. The projects
helped me to understand engineering somewhat, but having been assigned the Camel
Rides was very disappointing, because I felt that such an assignment was ridiculous,
while the other groups had very reasonable projects, such as improving
transportation. I did enjoy, however, being the Process Observer, seeing that I do
enjoy interpreting people and situations. I came here to help me decide whether or
not I wanted to be a Civil Engineer, and while this program helped me in no way in
deciding, I guess I learned some interaction lessons concerning people.
                                                                                      12

Kerem Oral:
The first day I came to the class, we were told about the content of the class, what we
were going to work on and what kind of programs we were going to be using. At that
moment I felt like these 4-weeks were going to be amazing, but at the same time a
little nervous since I was going to be designing something by using a program about
which I had no idea. Moreover, I was nervous because I was going to do some
presentations when I would talk in front of the whole class, so I was a little scared. In
addition to this, I was so excited, because this was a great opportunity for me to use
my creativity and design something for people with disabilities. Since I love to create
things, there were a lot of ideas coming to my mind and I was eagerly trying to
present those ideas to my group mates. When I started to work on Maya, I really liked
it, because it was the first time in my life when I was using a real engineering design
program on which what I was designing looks exactly like a real vision. Among many
things that I experienced during these 4-weeks, the most important is that the class
taught me how to work in a group and share our opinions as well as our emotions. I
enjoyed this experience and would do it again if I had the chance.

Zeke Miller:
One of the main things that I got out of this class was that I learned how to work in a
team setting more efficiently. Prior to this I had never worked on a large-scale
project with other people. At first I was concerned about relying on other people to
do their share. Throughout the program, my fear subsided and I began trusting my
teammates to do their work. As a result, the team worked more efficiently and
without much conflict. At the beginning of the program I was concerned because I
had no experience in any sort of computer modeling software. My fear subsided
during the first Maya lecture when I realized that everyone was in the same situation
as I was and didn’t know Maya. By the time I saw the final renders, I felt a great
sense of elation that the project was done and that it looked good. It is very gratifying
to see something that you have worked on for weeks come to fruition.

Team Process Description

When the team first met, introductions were made and roles were assigned. This is
where our first problem arose. People were sensitive about the roles to which they
were assigned and after unsettling discussions, stubborn decisions were made. This
was the beginning of a difficult week. Trips to the Bronx Zoo and in-class
brainstorming sessions displayed differences among the ways each team member
thought. Conflicts did arise but eventually people learned to be stern and made sure
that their opinions were heard. Some team members had to step up and act as leaders
while others preferred to be quiet and barely say a word. While it is true that the team
really was not the best group of kids to work with each other, by the end of the third
week and the beginning of the fourth week the team members began to tolerate one
another and learned how to deal with their differences. Courtesy was finally installed
by the beginning of the fourth week and generally the outcome of the project itself
was not affected by the disruptive teamwork.
                                                                                     13

The team was able to be productive as the result of several characteristics that the
individual team members held. One team member was able to get along with
everyone else, and his friendly demeanor helped move the group along. Two of the
members had a more extensive knowledge of computers than the rest of the team, and
this helped to create better Maya design renderings and Power Point presentations
that allowed the team to communicate properly to the client and the class. The two
remaining team members had good leadership skills, and were able to get things to
move along efficiently and to settle disputes among the teammates. This mixture of
personality traits ended up being helpful to the development of the projects.

While some traits were beneficial, there were those that delayed the group’s
productivity as well. Some members of the team were rather stubborn and this
stubbornness definitely halted the progress of the team a little bit. Another trait that
one of the team members had was silence. This member never wanted to add input to
ideas or Power Point presentations and he seemed annoyed at any time he had to take
a speaking position. These traits were the most prominent difficulties that the team
faced as a group.

The main challenges that the team overcame were the differences among members of
the team and being able to work together. The end of the program demonstrated the
team’s ability to work together rather productively, but it did take time for this to
happen. As a group we learned to work together and put aside our differences in
order to get things done well and efficiently.

If the team could start all over again, we would generally learn to stop disputing from
the start and just get to work on the project. We would also distribute the work more
evenly among the group members, and try to get some of the lesser workers to
contribute more to the projects. If this team were to work on a new project in the
future, we would definitely take the aforementioned changes into consideration.
However, we probably would not work together again by choice.

Project Resources

Team 5 researched information about the seven different types of disabilities in order
to be knowledgeable on helpful background information. A very helpful website that
we discovered was:

www.ada.gov

This website is the American Disabilities Act (aka ADA) homepage. This website
provides a lot of information on ADA itself as well as the different types of
disabilities. Exploring this page really helped our team thoroughly understand the
needs of persons with these disabilities and how to care and treat them.

We also visited many other web pages that had information on wheelchairs, such as
their average weights and the general structure. In addition, we researched camels
                                                                                  14

themselves, such as the average weight load and how they usually behave and are
treated.
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               Gantt Chart




                                 Task                              5-Jul 6-Jul 7-Jul 8-Jul 11-Jul 12-Jul 13-Jul 14-Jul 18-Jul 19-Jul 20-Jul 21-Jul 25-Jul 26-Jul 27-Jul 28-Jul
                 Introduction to Engineering Design
                   Research of Various Disabilities
            Introduction to Pre-assigned Design Project
Research o Background Information Necessary for Project Completion
            Trips to Bronx Zoo for Observational Research
                            Meeting with Client
                  Identification of Self-defined Project
                     Brainstorming and Designing
                        Preliminary Presentation
                          Mid-term Presentation
                    Final Designs Thought Process
                              Maya Lectures
                    Final Design on Maya Software
                           Bronx Zoo Final Visit
                       Final Project Presentation
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