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MSOE experiential learning project benefits Blue Lotus

The Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center near West Bend, Wisconsin has a new bath house featuring a hydraulic-assisted lift table, wash station, and changing area thanks to five Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) students. Blue Lotus serves those with profound life challenges of any age by providing accessible outdoor recreational and therapeutic opportunities in a caring, accepting, and inspiring 64-acre day camp setting. Ethan Buechel, Willem Gauthier, Maxwell Jenney, Jeff Makowski and Justin Meseberg, all construction management majors, took on the bath house as their capstone project under the guidance of Assistant Professor Mark Rounds and MSOE’s CREATE Institute.

“Lives are changed by this organization. Bettering [visitors’] time and experience here is fantastic,” Buechel said of the project. “Knowing we’re making a positive impact not just today or tomorrow but 10 years down the line is wonderful.”

The team enlisted Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Interiors to design the facility; worked to get zoning approval and permits; and contracted with landscapers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and laborers to bring the project to life. Students served as the construction/project managers and oversaw the entire project and its budget, often rolling up their sleeves to pitch in and help.

“There’s something about when we call on MSOE that ensures both a guarantee and a relaxed attitude. We just know that the students get the backing to do it right, and we enjoy watching the students take it, embrace it, and treat us like clients,” said Jacqueline Janz, executive director of Blue Lotus. “They’re already doing professional work, so they are well set to go off into the workforce, wherever they go.”

The bath house, changing area, and lift table make it easier for campers and their caregivers when changing in and out of swim clothes. This is the latest project MSOE students have completed at Blue Lotus over the past 13 years.