Noam Platt built several iterations of his One-2-Go Adaptive Toilet design over the course of 2021 using cardboard and other materials. But when it was time to build a prototype sturdy enough to show the world in Dubai, he called on The Skillshop at Nunez Community College.
Platt, an architectural designer from New Orleans and founder of MakeGood NOLA, has a background that makes him the perfect candidate for the Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) Global Innovation Challenge. As a teen, he volunteered as a counselor at Camp Dream Street in Utica, Miss., a camp for individuals with physical disabilities. As a college student and later as a professional, he mastered the elements of design and construction.
He’s also got connections. His cousin in Israel is one of the founders of TOM. His friend Jennifer Lyman came up with the idea for an adaptive toilet for her son who lives with cerebral palsy.
In May 2021, Platt and Lyman threw a make-a-thon with friends at Jen’s home to make her idea a reality. From there, the process of trial and error refined the One-2-Go into a safe, functional product, which Platt submitted to the TOM competition.
A mentor with TOM recommended a peg board design that would make the One-2-Go collapsible and portable. Suddenly Platt’s design had both improved and grown considerably more complex to produce.
It was time to head to the Nunez Skillshop.
“When I say I could not have done this without (Skillshop Director) Vincent (Vumbaco) and Nunez, that’s true,” said Platt. “Just pestering Vincent to let me in on weekends. He believed in the project and I can’t thank him enough.”
The Nunez Skillshop is a public makerspace packed full of high-tech equipment not commonly found in one place. Platt uploaded his designs into the computer software at the Skillshop, and within a month-and-a-half had turned out four successive iterations of the still-evolving adaptive toilet.
“I taught Noam some of our rapid prototyping techniques,” said Vumbaco. “How to convert his 3D model into a two-dimensional design, and how to operate our CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) router to cut out his plywood prototypes.”
Vumbaco describes The Skillshop at Nunez as “a communal place of action and a hub for technical literacy.” The makerspace provides assistance and training in a wide array of advanced manufacturing technologies central to product-oriented business. It’s a catalyst for local business development, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) proliferation and community enrichment.
Creators seeking to start a business, learn a new skill, improve marketability and income or simply to create are invited to join as a monthly member at Nunez.edu/STEAM/makerspaces.
Monthly membership provides access Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and by appointment outside of business hours. The Skillshop, located in the Kane Building on the Nunez campus, houses woodworking equipment, 3D printers, CNC routers, power tools, hand tools, laser cutters, and computers with all necessary software. Personalized training is available on all equipment and software.
Platt’s trip to the TOM Challenge in Dubai with his Skillshop-constructed One-2-Go wasn’t part of a competition, as the name may imply. Both Platt and TOM are focused on making innovative products available to the world, as opposed to selling them. Platt’s design is on file at The Skillshop and available to anyone willing to pay for the raw materials and to learn how to operate the machinery.
“Anyone can build their own copy. That’s the point,” said Platt. “The TOM competition is open-source. Everything submitted is in the public domain.”
He plans to continue refining his Adaptive Toilet while encouraging more designers and manufacturers in the New Orleans area to focus on philanthropic products.
About Nunez Community College
Nunez Community College is a student-centered institution that delivers relevant and innovative curriculum integrating the arts, sciences, and humanities leading to academic credentials and workforce opportunities. Nunez serves a vital role in the community by engaging with partners to support student success and personal growth. Nunez Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. Nunez is located at 3710 Paris Road, Chalmette, LA. For more information, visit www.nunez.edu.
Contact info for Noam Platt
Organization: Makers Making Change
Phone: (318) 272-7963