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RoboTiller group

Education in Action

Over at the School of Engineering, a team of five undergraduate students laid the groundwork for a robotic rototiller that could modernize the gardening industry.

Senior business majors used their talents to create a business plan for a startup coffee shop in Chester, while two masters students from the Center for Social Work Education presented their research on the impact of trauma-informed therapy.

These are just some of the projects featured at Undergraduate Student Project Day and the Graduate Research Symposium. Both events are held annually to showcase how Widener students put their education into action.

Senior John Harshaw said the RoboTiller team, in brainstorming their interdisciplinary project, wanted to create “something people have never seen before.”

So they started with a Husqvarna base model manual tiller and added attachments that were then programed to allow the machine to independently till a 20’ by 30’ garden. The RoboTiller also has a mechanism that automatically seeds the area being tilled. 

While Harshaw admits they have come a long way in their year on the project they still have some kinks to work out, which very much simulates working in the field.

“A lot of times you run into things you don’t account for and when something occurs you change your course and make adjustments,” explained Harshaw, a mechanical engineering major.

The team also made recommendations for future students at Widener who wish to continue the work they started.

During the Graduate Research Symposium Rachel Keller and Sarah Jablecki discussed the power of trauma-informed social work and presented first-hand case studies from their time working in the field.

Keller worked at the Jewish Family Services of Delaware and explained how a treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can help correct irrational coping mechanisms sometimes created by trauma.

Jablecki stressed how putting the needs of the client first played a huge role while working at Widener’s Vulnerable Adults Clinic.

 “It’s more than just diagnosing problems and giving something a title,” Jablecki said of her time at the clinic.

Keller added healing happens when the client begins to look at life through a different lens, one that is not obstructed by the trauma.

“Therapy is about relationships, it’s not theoretical, you want the client to leave the office knowing as a person they have truly been seen and heard,” said Keller.