Name:  Adam Keys

Branch of Service:  Army

Years Served:  Seven total years, five of those years were recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  

QL+ Challenge:  Wheelchair Tire Cleaner, Virginia Tech.  QL+ mechanical engineering students are challenged to design a device to assist Adam, a triple amputee, with cleaning his electric wheelchair tires/wheels as he enters his home from outside.

What was your job in the military?  Engineer

How were you injured?  I was blown up 14 July 10, in Afghanistan.  I won’t get in the nitty gritty but obviously, I became a triple amputee.

After this happened, what was the most significant hurdle you overcame?  Acceptance.


What do you do for fun?  Any hobbies?
 Working out, doing stand-up comedy, and, doing things people don’t think I can. 

What motivates you?  Life gives me motivation every day.

How will the device the students are building improve your quality of life?  The device will improve my quality of life because I’m in my wheelchair more than my prosthetics, and I’m very active with many things, but the last thing I want to do is clean my floors and my wheelchair after I track in all the debris from outside.  It’s been a frustrating winter! It’d be just like taking my boots off after work when I get home, but in this case, the boots are wheels and they have to come with me.  As soon as I get home, you know exactly where I’ve been in my house!  Lol!


What has it been like so far, working with QL+ students and participating in the program?
 It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the team at Virginia Tech on this idea.  Everyone seems to be all in and I appreciate that.  Our weekly video meetings make me feel like I’m a student, and it’s been awesome working with the students--they listen and also voice their opinions.  Everything’s coming together and I look forward to the finished product!  QL+ is a remarkable program, Jon and Barb and everyone involved are incredible people. 

Any words of wisdom to our QL+ students?  I would say to the students--stay the course, nothing is easy in life, but it’s absolutely worth seeing it (life, relationships, projects) through! It’s rewarding and it will only help you personally in future endeavors, and of course, ALWAYS find the humor! There’s a joke everywherešŸ˜œ!

If you were writing a book about yourself, what would be the title?  “Make 'em Laugh or Make 'em Cry, Just Don’t Make 'em Boo You!” Or, "Go Where the Wind Blows You."

The goal of our Challenger Salute is to honor the service and sacrifice our veterans and first responders have made for our country.  We are very grateful that our Challengers have agreed to participate in our program.  Their participation is helping us “build” better students.  They are providing our students with real-world experience and arming them with the tools they need to succeed once they graduate.