By Joel Hillan

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A team of graduating Colorado State University (CSU) engineering students presented their completed senior project Friday to a Fort Collins woman. She had asked for their help with a wheelchair.

“I really wanted this for exercise and for fun, I mean my world is challenging, I was looking for some fun,” said Wanda Roche.

(credit: CBS)

She bought the specially-designed wheelchair from MIT hoping it would allow her to exercise and have fun, but it turned out to be a scary ride.

“Steering was pretty impossible and braking was little-to-none and so it was too scary to use.”

When MIT said they couldn’t help, CSU stepped up, turning this into a senior project.

“At first I thought it would be an easy project, but it turned out to be a really difficult thing,” said graduating senior Shura Almaawali.

(credit: CBS)

“So they got in the chair, and they went to go down my driveway, and they went to brake and it didn’t brake so they put their feet down and I’m like, ‘Cheater! You can’t do that, I can’t do that!'” she said laughing.

“You actuate out, and it turns left, and if you actuate it in, and it turns right,” explained graduating senior Billy Anthony who also worked on the project.

The team engineered a cable pulley steering system, reworked the brakes and added a four-point harness.

“It’s very intuitive and it’s a very nice design, and I think she’s going to really like and have a lot of fun this summer,” said Billy.

(credit: CBS)

Graduation day, the team presented Wanda with the finished project.

“I could control it easily, I could brake and so now all of my energy is to go forward and climb those hills again,” said Wanda.

Through conquering this engineering problem, Wanda, and the team, are now properly equipped for their next journey.

Joel Hillan


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