Lake Washington Institute of Technology welcomed more than 40 business, community and education leaders Tuesday during a tour at the Kirkland campus as part of the 2017 Washington STEM Summit.
The tour showcased LWTech’s machining, digital gaming and nursing simulation labs. The tour group consisted of leaders in the state’s science, technology, engineering and math communities, who bused from the Redmond Microsoft campus, which hosted the summit.
Suzanne Ames, the school’s associate vice president of instruction, hosted the event and led one of the tour groups. LWTech was the only college included in the STEM tours. According to Ames, Washington STEM contacted LWTech because of their hands-on teaching.
“Washington STEM wanted to show their members a learning environment where students are learning advance technical concepts with their hands,” she said. “Washington STEM picked us as an opportunity to dispel the myth of what happens at a technical college. We (gave) these guests the opportunity to see that we are truly teaching advanced technical concepts for the emerging workforce.”
The LWTech faculty, students and staff were all excited and honored to host the Washington STEM guests, according to Ames.
“We (were) really looking forward to telling our story to others who might not know it yet,” she said.
Machine technology instructor Mike Clifton led the machining lab tour, which demonstrated the precision necessary in the machining field. He explained that they need to be accurate within one-sixteenth the width of a human hair and students can do more than $20,000 worth of damage through simple mistakes.
The students who worked in the lab during the tour moved methodically.
One 17-year-old Running Start student, Payton Dean, is currently working to earn an associate’s degree through the machining program and owns his own custom LEGO minifigure business, X39BrickCustoms. Payton helped showcase the lab’s nine-axis machines, which he used to create aluminum Space Needle figurines that guests were able to take home.
Guests then toured the digital gaming and interactive media lab, where faculty and students demonstrated their virtual reality equipment and motion capture lab. Students use the lab to record human motion and track it onto a 3-D computer model, which they can use to help design animations for their games.
LWTech’s student developers showcase their games each year at PAX West, one of the largest international gaming conventions. Some students go on to sell their games to developers, according to digital gaming and media department chair Phil Trumbo.
LWTech offers and associate’s and bachelor’s degree in gaming and interactive media.
The final stop on the tour featured a live demonstration from LWTech’s fifth-quarter nursing students. The faculty stepped aside as the students showcased their human simulation lab, intensive care unit and test dummy named Carl.
Carl is a human model specialized for nursing practice that can breathe, sweat, vomit and has a heart rate.
Carl’s vitals and overall well-being is controlled by faculty, who can also voice Carl through a microphone. This helps create varying real-world scenarios that the students must adapt to. During the tour, Carl helped the students demonstrate a code blue, which is when a patient goes into cardiac arrest.
The students debriefed and reviewed their performance with the guests after several minutes of CPR and multiple mock defibrillator shocks.
“I always wanted to have a job that was meaningful and helped people with their most basic needs,” said Abby Garalde, a nursing student who acted as Carl’s wife in the ICU. “Lake Washington has been a great fit for me.”
Garalde has two children and found a passion to return to school and become a nurse after interacting with the nurses who cared for her father.
“Honestly between school and studying, it’s hard,” she said. “But I know that my kids and my husband are able to see me persevere and pursue my goals. I really want that for my children, to be able to see what hard work looks like.”