2024 Engineer Magazine

Keys 4/4 Kids in New Brighton, Minnesota inspired the instrument design project at St. Thomas. The nonprofit works to save as many pianos as they can from area landfills and provided students with recycled piano parts to incorporate into their builds.

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over their new instruments to music team members to practice on. Emily Torstenson ’27, a marketing major in the music class, was thrilled with her team’s final design, which featured strings from a piano, keys from a xylophone, and the body of an old ukulele. “It turned out really well – I love the sound it makes,” Torstenson said. “But also, it’s really cool that we were able to prevent waste with this design, and make something completely new, in a completely different way.” The project is now in its second year, and plans are already in place to present the challenge to a new group of students in fall 2024. With each iteration, organizers say, the community gains engineers and musicians better prepared to create a more sustainable world.

team turned to the Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) at St. Thomas to find alternative solutions. Local governments and nonprofits have relied on SCP to funnel some of its greatest sustainability minded questions right into the hands of St. Thomas students. Since its inception in 2016, SCP projects have been incorporated into more than 150 courses across a variety of disciplines, including economics, marketing and psychology. “These projects allow our students the opportunity – using the skills they’re developing in class – to solve current questions that our community partners otherwise would not have the capacity to explore on their own,” Office of Sustainability Initiatives & SCP Director Dr. Maria Dahmus said. “Connecting our students with partners expands those possibilities and enriches learning in so many collaborative ways.” After months of prototyping and testing, University of St. Thomas School of Engineering students handed

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