Engineering students tackle project, give back to community
A talented group of SAC students, with altruistic intentions, is working on a research project to not only gain an educational edge, but also give back to our community. The students have a goal to make life easier for those bound to using a wheelchair to get around a school campus, work, and other places in their everyday lives. They also want to help wheelchair bound people save money. By using engineering skills they have learned at SAC, and through SAC's summer EDGE program, the students have designed a motor-pulley system that will convert a manual wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair, making the wheelchair faster, less expensive and lighter for the disabled.
The design, which involves a rubber pulley to turn the
manual wheel, will be entirely portable and mostly contained in a small
backpack that will fit on the back of the wheelchair. This will also enable the
disabled person to take their wheelchair with them on an airplane. It would be
lighter for travel and get up inclines faster and without tiring. The
wheelchair would be able to go faster and would cost less than an electric
wheelchair that could cost four to five times more than a manually powered
The design the students have engineered involves specified parts
that have to be handmade. This is where the help is needed. The students need
about $1,000 to create these parts.
Ideally, the team has about two weeks to get the funds
together. This will give them enough time to build, test and document their
project. Their deadline to have the project fully complete is April 11, but
they have a personal goal of March 10 to make sure everything is in proper
John Quarles, who has muscular sclerosis, was inspiration
for the project and will assist in the research. He said some days are harder
than others and having a wheelchair that has this feature will improve his
quality of life.
“They are doing this
out of the kindness of their hearts,” he said about the students working on the
project. “They are doing a great job.”
The students said people with disabilities should not feel
different from others and they wanted to do this project to help the physically
If their design becomes available for purchase, it could
save wheelchair users money. A typical electric wheelchair can cost up to
$10,000. The portable motor and pulley system would cost someone a few hundred
dollars, said Lindsay Swaim.
“This would help a lot of people,” added Swaim.
If you would like more information about the project or
would like to donate, visit their Go Fund Me web page at http://www.gofundme.com/5urgw0.
Team members are Lindsay Swaim, Chasity Valerio, Katherine
Pitts, Calvin Ward and Jose Rojas.