Around the State: Robotics students design motorized hospital trays for Hendrick

Hendrick Health System contacted the engineering and robotics programs at two Abilene-area school districts, asking them to design motorized hospital trays to protect both nurses and patients, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. (Screen Capture)

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Hendrick Health System wanted an effective system that could deliver some aspects of health care to hospital patients while protect both nurses and patients, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. So, Hendrick’s leaders contacted the engineering and robotics programs at two Abilene-area school districts, asking them to design motorized hospital trays. Robotics students and teachers in the Abilene Independent School District and the Wylie Independent School District used standard-issue table trays and spare parts to design a working prototype in a matter of hours. Working in cooperation with a local manufacturing company that created models based on the students’ designs, Hendrick was using the robotic hospital trays within a week. View a video here.

The senior art exhibition of Howard Payne University student Sarah “Abi” Brown launched on the HPU School of Music and Fine Arts Facebook page April 27. The exhibition, which features a video introduction by the artist, is presented exclusively online. Its format is tailored to simulate an in-person gallery experience, with the video featuring Brown’s descriptions of the inspiration for her artwork and photos allowing for detailed viewing of each item in the exhibit. Her artwork includes a broad range of styles and techniques, including paintings, ceramics, weavings, photographs and drawings.

Haley Harmening, a senior worship studies major at East Texas Baptist University, was crowned as the 64th Miss ETBU. Sophomore speech communication major Bailey Snow was selected as first runner up, and junior elementary education major Cayce Billingsley was selected as second runner up. At ETBU, Harmening has participated in Hilltop Singers, Lampsato worship band, chapel band, concert choir, marching band and theater, and she has served as a Tiger Camp leader. She was selected from eight contestants during the annual pageant sponsored by ETBU’s Student Government Association. Due to restrictions and safety precautions regarding the COVID-19 health crisis, each contestant went through an online interview and question-and-answer process, in addition to the usual online vote by students, faculty, and staff. The evening wear and talent portions of the pageant were removed this year, as was the traditional reception that unites all former Miss ETBU winners with the current year’s contestants.



Three students in the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor College of Visual & Performing Arts earned top honors from the 2020 Hal Leonard Vocal Competition. Angel Tolbert, a junior music education major from Temple, won the national musical theatre college division. Christopher McCloskey, a freshman vocal performance student from Katy, came in fourth. Chandler Webb, a freshman music education major from Arlington, was a finalist. The deadline to enter the competition was Feb. 1, and none of the competitors learned the results until April 23. Tolbert and McCloskey also qualified for the national semifinals in the National Association of Teachers of Singing student auditions in its musical theater competition. That competition, usually held at a host institution, moved to an online platform due to the cancellation of summer events as the result of the novel coronavirus. The students submitted their videotaped auditions for the next round of competition.

Prior to the restrictions made necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, Howard Payne University faculty and students spent four days in Lubbock to meet and work alongside staff members with Buckner International. The HPU group met with and received training from Lubbock-based foster care professionals and other local Buckner staff. Students and faculty also hosted a “Parents’ Night Out” event to provide an evening of child care for area foster families and a “Mom’s Morning Out” event for families in Buckner’s Family Pathway program. Additionally, the group spent an evening working with local mission organization Lubbock Impact. The trip represented the first steps in a wide-ranging collaboration between HPU and Buckner. Rachel Derrington Bourke, chair of the department of social work; Toni Damron, assistant professor of social work and coordinator of field instruction; and Gina Gibbs, chair of the department of criminal justice, led the group from HPU. Student participants were David Manolof, a senior from Midway, Alaska; Alex Mata, a junior from Gatesville; Marisa Miller, a senior from Temecula, Calif.; Benjamin Olin, a sophomore from Howe; Destiny Sharp, a senior from Brownwood; James (Andrew) Taylor, a senior from Brookesmith; and Diana Torres, a junior from Houston.


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