Athens, OH 28 February 2016 –
Since Spring Break is beginning this week, a lot of students are getting the opportunity to relax, go on vacation, and maybe even start to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this semester. However, for the senior mechanical engineering class, it’s crunch time.
All year long, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into our senior design projects, and it’s finally time that all our planning and designing pays off, and we get to actually make something. I feel extremely lucky with the project I’ve had the privilege of working on this year. My team is working with a local family and a physical therapist who works for the university in order to create an adaptive tricycle for an incredibly sweet five-year-old girl named Fiona.
Fiona has agenesis of the corpus callosum, which prevents the two hemispheres of her brain from properly communicating with each other. This causes her to have difficulty developing muscle strength and coordination. Fiona has recently begun riding a tricycle for therapy, but there are many features on her existing trike that needed improved, and that’s where we stepped in.
We decided to purchase an existing bicycle that properly fits Fiona and convert it to a tricycle by attaching a two-wheeled rear axle. We’re also modifying several other parts to make the device more adaptable to Fiona’s specific needs. We plan to create custom shaped handlebars, add a more comfortable seat, include interchangeable backrests, and design pedals that will help keep her feet in place as she rides.
Another cool but super-challenging aspect of our design is that the trike can be towed behind an adult bicycle, so that Fiona can use it not just for therapy, but for a recreational activity with her family as well. Below is a 3D CAD model our team has created to demonstrate our design.
I think our senior design course is especially exciting because the projects we complete as a class aren’t theoretical. They’re very real projects for very real people, and it’s so rewarding to be able to use your engineering education to positively influence someone’s life in such a huge way. We’ll be continuing construction over Spring Break, and hopefully we will be able to deliver the final product to Fiona and her parents within the next few weeks.