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Life-changing project could help millions

May 11, 2016

A team of students in Mechanical Engineering Senior Design class along with collaboration of UDM Nursing students design, develop and produce a wheelchair lift device for their handicapped client.

One of the students, Evan Gage, has a personal connection to their client, Pam Williams.

Williams is a close friend of Gage’s mother and he considers her as an aunt.

Gage wanted to make his aunt’s life easier by creating a device to lift her wheelchair into her car.

Williams has Lupus and Scleroderma and is mobile with the help of her wheelchair.

“This is more than a project,” says Dr. Darrell Kleinke, professor in mechanical engineering.  “The students work with a client and assess their needs.  By the end of the semester, students don’t see this as a project but providing a quality product for a person in need which will enhance their mobility.”

The goal of device is to automatically lift the wheelchair into the trunk of a sedan without sliding into the trunk and not damaging the exterior of the car.

Williams is thrilled with the final product. 

 “This is fantastic,” says Williams with a big smile.  “Now he’s [Gage] an engineer and is creating something that can help me.”

 “If we can help one person why can’t we help more,” says Gage whose team is in contact with UDM’s Law School to seek a patent.

“This is just one example of the entrepreneurial mindset embedded in our teaching.  It is aimed at making a difference in the workplace and in society,” says Kleinke. 

The entrepreneurial program is supported by principles from the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). KEEN is a collaboration of more than 20 colleges focused on elevating engineering education by incorporating core principles of entrepreneurial engineering. UDM became a partner of KEEN in 2004. 

The student team includes Martha Dunbar, Elliott Fernandes, Anthony Li, Daniel Modes and Evan Gage.

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