Experience as Admissions tour guide influenced design
As a senior majoring in engineering technology, Thomas is always looking for inventive ways to solve problems and help others.
"My dad had asked me if I could make something similar to an expensive door puller he found online," Thomas said. "He works as a technology specialist for a Minnesota school district and needed something to open heavy doors at work during the coronavirus pandemic."
Thomas' original design for his dad was a thick, heavy duty model with a button pusher on the end. He was inspired by his work as an Admissions tour guide to further develop the device. After limited on-campus tours started again, Thomas modified the original design to make it easier to carry and use during a tour.
"As a tour guide here on campus, things have become a lot more complex and interesting with the COVID-19 pandemic," Thomas said. "So I thought with the door puller it would help alleviate us having to touch door handles during a tour."
Thomas downsized the original design and printed a few dozen on his 3D printer at home. Admissions staff were thrilled to get them for use during tours.
His design ultimately caught the attention of Chancellor Katherine P. Frank, who thought it was a perfect example of how UW-Stout encourages students to always be innovating, even during a challenging time such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
UW-Stout leadership connected Thomas with the Made at UW-Stout initiative and faculty, who provided further expertise.
Along with being included as part of the fall 2020 welcome to campus kit, the door pullers are being provided to staff and faculty upon request.