COVID Response



Opening Doors: Engineering Students Develop Tool for Housekeeping

MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY, Tenn. (Jan. 22, 2021) — When the fall semester began amid a pandemic, Milligan University’s Carrie Floyd, service manager for housekeeping, looked for ways to keep her staff as safe as possible. Working in every building on campus, Floyd wanted to reduce their amount of touch points.

The housekeeping staff needed a tool that could easily fit in a pocket or a key ring and be used to open and close doors and drawers, flip light switches, and push elevator buttons.

Her search began with one of Milligan’s mechanical engineering professors, Dr. Landon Holbrook. He tasked his incoming engineering majors with designing such a tool, which the department’s 3D printers could produce.

“This was an awesome first project because it let us put a face to the problem we were solving,” said freshman engineering major Eli Ensley, of Piney Flats, Tennessee.

Students in the Introduction to Engineering course worked in groups to design a tool with CAD software. The housekeeping staff tested each 3D printed design and provided feedback to the class.

For Nate Barnett, of Kingsport, Tennessee, this project taught him about the fundamentals of engineering and teamwork.

“We learned how to ask good questions to better understand the specifics behind a problem,” he said. “Being new to engineering, our first drafts changed drastically as we received feedback.”

At the end of the semester, housekeeping staff selected their favorite tool, and that design was the final print.


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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