With a traditional spring semester disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, a team of students at Colorado State University Engineering decided to focus their capstone project on creating and building a swing for a man with autism.

Dylan Bush lives in Fort Collins with his mother and stepfather, who are his long-term caregivers. Bush loves swings, but it’s been hard to find ones that will work for him.

For Bush, swinging is not just a fun activity. Swinging is also therapeutic as it can help strengthen sensory experiences for those with autism.

The CSU team started working with Bush’s family last August through a local special-needs organization, Foothills Gateway, to design a custom bidirectional swing for him to use in the family yard.

“One of the biggest things that drew us to this project was how we could see the immediate impact,” student engineer Paige Floyd said. “There was this specific client in need, we were working with a loving family, and we would be able to see a final product that could be installed and used. That was very motivating for us.”

Floyd and teammates Renee Farnes and Nick Krekeler designed a bidirectional swing that can swing back and forth, as well as spins, and reworked the design a few times to get it perfect for what Dylan needs.

The team asked for and were granted permission earlier this month to finish the construction of the swing, even though they all graduated in May.

“In spite of the COVID restrictions, and you know, they could have said ‘well we’re done with school and we can’t come back,’ but they came back and they did exactly what they said they would do,” said Dylan’s mother, Holly Bush.

With support from the university, as well as some friends, former classmates and faculty advisors as well as members of the Poudre Fire Authority, the team was able to get all the materials they needed to finish in early July.

Holly Bush described feeling “teary, and really excited” to see the project completed.

“This is such a big deal to me and seems like such a huge undertaking,” she said. “To think that so many people have been involved for an entire year, just for this one amazing person — it makes my heart sing.”

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