Project examples

Animal Enrichment Project

Course: 25.107 - Introduction to Engineering I
Semester: Fall 2007
Instructor: David Kazmer
Partner:Zoo New England - Franklin Park Zoo

The Franklin Park Zoo requested assistance in the development of animal enrichment devices/activities that will improve the life of the lions and tigers that live there. To give a more in-depth understanding of the project, the Zoo invited the students to a field trip where the zoo staff talked shared their needs with the class and explained the purpose of enrichment: new sounds, tastes, shapes and textures will keep the animals active and interacting with the environment as if they were in the wild. The students brainstormed unique enrichment ideas, formed teams and went to work designing and building the devices.

The 380 students of this Introduction to Engineering course brought relevant engineering technologies to life through the design and development of novel “paws-on” enrichment devices/activities for lions and tigers, devices that will provide the animals with new experiences that will keep them active. The students had only a $10 per person budget, but they still developed quality products that they later presented to UML faculty and administrators, as well as to officials of Zoo New England, including CEO, John Linehan, who commented: “Overall, I was overwhelmed by the results of this collaboration,” and went on to explain that “While the main targets for this project were lions and tigers, many of these designs will work for other cats and even canids, or members of the dog family”. Approximately 50 devices will be delivered accompanied by user manuals and a webcam that Prof. Kazmer provided which the zoo may install so that the students can watch the animals using their designs.

Learning objectives met by the S-L project:

  • Understand what engineers do in their profession
  • Understand the engineering design process
  • Implement design/build/test projects
  • Work constructively in a team
  • Develop presentation skills
  • Objectively evaluate the performance of a design

Community objectives met by S-L project:

  • Enrich the lives of captive big cats
  • Increase exposure of animal enrichment activities
  • Make connections with UML for future engagements