Nov. 27, 2023

NDSU engineering students adapt toys for local kids with disabilities


Engineering students at North Dakota State University are putting their skills to the test to make the holiday season more enjoyable for children of all abilities. 

Playing with off-the-shelf toys is often not possible for children with physical and motor disabilities, depending on their unique abilities. However, toys can be modified so the original switches are rerouted to a larger switch that is more accessible and easy to operate. 

Lead by NDSU student leaders from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Eta Kappa Nu chapter, the fifth annual Toy Adaptathon to modify toys for local children is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 29, and Wednesday, Dec. 6, starting at 6 p.m. each day. Switch modifications will be made in the NDSU electrical and computer engineering building’s room 223A.

Parents, families and friends of children with physical and motor disabilities are encouraged to drop off their switch-activated toys at NDSU’s Main Library or Disability Services before Dec. 4. 

“IEEE-HKN is a community service centered organization,” said both Chris Miller and Cole Rahne, juniors studying electrical engineering at NDSU. Rahne is from Hutchinson, Minnesota and Miller is from Stillwater, Minnesota. “The Toy Adaptathon is a great opportunity to use our skills learned in the NDSU Eectrical and Computer Engineering labs for the service of others. The understanding of circuits and the ability to solder comes in handy when reconfiguring the toys.”

Donations from the public also are requested for the families who cannot afford switch-activated toys for their children. Donations can be arranged by emailing

NDSU is partnering with area therapy groups to distribute the donated toys, but also encourages suggestions for any child in need of an adapted toy. 

“We have several student volunteers, using the skills learned in the classroom, committing their time to adapting toys for children with disabilities in our area,” said Mark Coppin, director of the NDSU Center for Accessibility and Disability Resources. “Our goal is to make toys accessible to all this holiday season.”

As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, we serve our citizens.

Categories: Students, Events
Submit Your News Story
Help us report what’s happening around campus, or your student news.