COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Four Tennessee Tech mechanical engineering students decided to give a special surprise to a 2-year-old with autism.
Aiden Robertson was diagnosed with autism in February and a few weeks later he and his mother Lorren lost everything in a deadly tornado that hit Putnam County.
“Once you get that news that you have an autistic child, everything starts going through your head about what you have to do to help him,” said Robertson. “Then the tornado hit. It was hard. He lost all of his therapeutic things, and we just had to start over.”
Students Emily Carroll, Gabriel DaSilva, Lexie Carrier and John Wagner were enrolled in a dynamics of machinery class this semester requiring a much-anticipated project that could have a big impact on a family in need.
Once the students found out about Aiden’s need for a sensory swing, they went right to work.
The Early Intervention and Mechanical Engineering Project at Tennessee Tech is a program created to provide “innovative engineered products to children with special needs while also offering real-world design experience to engineering students.”
“It was good to finally get to do a hands-on project than just working on paper for the past two years,” said Gabriel DaSilva, a junior from Fairview, Tennessee. “It was very unique. The whole process – collaborating with my team members and getting our design on paper and doing the math and the calculations and actually building it in the shop and seeing it come together piece by piece – was really cool.”
The team worked for months to plan and create the swing before it could be delivered.
On Friday, December 11 the students arrived in Cookeville with the special delivery for Aiden. Once installation was done, he ran into the room and yelled “swing.”
“When I first saw it, I tried not to cry. It was awesome,” said Robertson. “The greatest thing for a parent is to see something their child needs and be so happy. When he got in the swing, he was super relaxed. It was perfect. Everything about it was just what he needed.”
But that wasn’t all, the students also brought Aiden Christmas presents.
“We knew their family had been affected by the tornadoes and that Aiden had lost his sensory snake and his sensory vest and some other things,” said Lexie Carrier, a senior from Kingsport, Tennessee. “We thought it would be kind to put those things in place with his sensory swing as well.”
Aiden got his swing and an early Christmas and the team of students received an “A.”