When a group of students requested to work with the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation, Engineering educator John Harrison decided to charge the students in his electrical engineering and computer science design class with creating a project that would benefit a physically or mentally challenged individual.
“And they went ahead and met with the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation and, and they got really really excited,” Harrison said. “From watching them work with CPRF I thought wow, this is really inspiring. They have a really clear purpose to their project.”
Engineering student Adrian Love helped develop a modified bicycle to allow an individual with cerebral palsy to pedal using her arms, which also powers a generator to store energy for later use.
“What we’re doing here is creating her a battery system that allows her to power up anything she wants and allow her to exercise,” Love said.
Harrison said that while the majority of this semester’s seven projects are function-based, he thinks future projects will be more tailored to a resident’s specific requests.
“I expect that will change over time, because the residents were asking for a lot of things that would make a difference in their quality of life not just in their safety in life,” Harrison said.
Harrison said it has been a learning curve for everyone involved, and said getting in touch with the human aspect of the project has been important. One team developed a solution to the potential problem of a stranded wheelchair or dead battery.
“They can press basically a panic button and the panic button will text a loved one saying ‘here are my GPS coordinates, I’m in trouble,” Harrison said.
The completed projects will be displayed at Exploration Place in early December. The class is also working with the Center for Entrepreneurship to develop a plan to bring the projects to market.