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Ohio University mechanical engineering students win national design competition honors

ATHENS, Ohio (April 23, 2012) -- A team of five senior mechanical engineering students from Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology has won second place in a national design competition.lincoln students

The J. F. Lincoln Foundation recently awarded Team Assistive Adventures a silver award of $750 for the team’s 2011 senior design project.

Working under the theme "Designing to Make a Difference," nine total teams delivered working prototypes to local clients in need in May 2011 as the culmination of their year-long mechanical engineering capstone design course.  

Team Assistive Adventures – Brad Geddes, Todd Linthicum, Matt McAllister, Anthony Palermo and Slade Simpson – designed an All-Terrain Wheelchair System as a safe, effective and less expensive modification system that helps the client maintain stability on “non-ideal” surfaces.

Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Greg Kremer said several individuals wanted to order a wheelchair after the team demonstrated its design. “It was well designed and tested -- and was manufactured to look more like a finished product than a prototype.”

The students’ client was a young, avid outdoorsman from Pickerington, Ohio, who was left paralyzed following a motocross injury. His reliance on a standard, ridged wheelchair made maneuvering through rough terrain, such as gravel, difficult.

Team member Slade Simpson stated this project was unlike any that he participated in as a student at Ohio University.
“This was very eye opening for me,” stated Simpson. “The importance of each decision becomes exponentially higher when you are dealing with other people and their well being.”

2The project’s main goal was to evaluate and solve a real world engineering problem from a business perspective. However, the students gained an unexpected reward when the project became more than an assignment. Helping the team’s paraplegic client enjoy the outdoors and return to his active life style became far more rewarding, Simpson said.

Kremer added that the level of professionalism and effort shown by the student design teams always impresses him.

“There comes a time in almost all projects where the students are working not for their own benefit or for a grade in a class, but because they are an engineer working on a problem that is important to their customer and they are motivated to create a solution.”

Simpson, now a design engineer for Commercial Vehicle Group in New Albany, Ohio, , said the project created the engineering foundation that has made him successful in his current professional setting.

“The most important tool I learned and retained from senior design was how to listen to others’ ideas, process them, return useful feedback and open a constructive dialogue.”

The team is just one of several from the program to have received awards. Another 2011 team took home first prize -- $20,000 total -- from the 2011 Ability One Network Design Challenge for their design to improve assembly of valves for McDonald's frappe dispensers. A 2009 team won the National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation & Design for its design of a jig to assist in the assembly of pop nozzles. Another 2009 team received an honorable mention in that competition.

Created in 1935, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation is dedicated to educating the public about the art and science of arc welding.

Related links:

•    2011 Ability One Network Design Challenge, NISH, 2011

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