Skip To Main Content


Share this article with a friend.

March 1, 2023

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

First-in-the-nation engineering and empathy class currently in its "idea/design review" phase; students get real-world assessments from professional engineers.

Notre Dame Prep's upper school students are going over their product ideas, which are intended to make a positive difference in the lives of many in need.

Both sections of Notre Dame Prep's engineering and empathy class now working on their chosen inventions have recently moved into second phase of their projects where product ideas are fleshed out a bit more and product markets are further researched.

"We completed our first phase, which is interviewing community partners to determine needs," said class instructor Louise Palardy, Notre Dame's STEM specialist and manager of the school's robotics center. "The students are working in small groups of two to four members each on their technological inventions."

During phase one, the class chose which community partners they would like to work with; either Shelly Loose, a woman who is a quadriplegic, or Fred Gillespie, a fire chief affiliated with the Leary Firefighter Foundation. 

"Once they decided with which community partner they would like to work, the kids decided on a struggle that their partner is facing and then a solution," Palardy said. "Research at this stage includes asking and answering questions such as 'what is currently on the market for this struggle,' 'how many people face this problem,' 'what makes the solution unique,' and 'is it buildable,' among others." 

Each team created a slide deck of their initial idea information as well as a video presentation and forwarded them to a number of engineers in the area who volunteered to review the initial ideas and provide valuable feedback.

Projects and descriptions:

Portadry (Kendall Smith, Layla Tiberia): Hand-shaped glove dryer that would blow warm air inside to reach all parts of the glove. 

Airstation 3000 (Jai Fox, Jeremy Gale, Leo Gemelli, and Taner Dudley): Portable glove dryer for firefighters to keep on the fire truck.

Inflato-Ball (Evan Hoke, Landon Hehl, Boyd Robinson): Automatic small exercise ball that inflates and deflates for Shelly to exercise her hands to try to gain more usage.

Pneu-Claw (Marcos Diez, Jackson Plas, Nick Uhazie): Reacher/grabber device for Shelly to use at the grocery store that attached to her wheelchair.

Emergency Rescue Vision (ERV) (Nolan Cueny, Evan Gaeschke, Owen Thieme, Doan Nguyen): Infrared camera system that attaches to a firefighter helmet for hands-free usage to find people in a fire.

Furnetic Leashes (Ella Abbott, Erin Dawiedczyk, Nicole Spengler): Dog collar/leash system for Shelly to use to walk her new puppy.

Quik Connect (Lucas Carballo, Joe Mlynarek, Anthony Torres): Seat belt for firetrucks that is pneumatic and operates like an amusement park ride for easy in and out with the press of a button (avoiding confusion with unbuckling the air-pack latch instead of the seat belt).

Assistoflute (Ally Berent, Lila DiMercurio, Nesa Whitley): Automated system for Shelly to be able to play the flute again. She played the flute and was a band director before her auto accident and it is a major activity she truly misses. 

Videos of the idea pitches are available here.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions?

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at