While senior design projects are inherently innovative, one team is tackling disability-related barriers with a special project this semester.
The Human Centered Design Studio (HCDS) team consists of 26 Mechanical and Electrical engineering students working on a variety of adaptive sports equipment projects that will allow people with disabilities to participate in activities that they might not otherwise be able to.
The HCDS is a part of the Ability Research and Design Group lead by Dr. Joel Bach.
The projects for this year will aid people in snowboarding, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and other activities.
“If people have the will and determination to try something new, then they shouldn’t be held back by lack of suitable equipment or technology,” Dr. Bach expressed. “[This group] works to create the equipment and technology and make it available.”
One piece of equipment that is in development is a prosthetic foot and ankle for snowboarding.
Ryan Gyorkos, a senior in mechanical engineering, is a project lead for the foot and ankle system.
“We are very excited to be able to work on [this] project. It will be used by a Paralympic snowboarder in competition, so it is important that we create a robust design. We will be doing a lot of prototyping and testing to make sure that our design does everything it needs to,” Gyorkos stated.
Another project in development is an adjustable and modular prosthetic arm for children. The idea is that as the kids grow, the arm can grow with them, reducing the need for replacements. The arm will also have modular attachments for different activities.
Not all of the projects, however, are with prosthetics. For example, there is a project to create a rock climbing wall that can be used by those who are visually impaired.
With these projects, the Human Centered Design Studio’s goal is to provide equipment and technology that allows people to participate in activities that they may have thought were impossible for them.