Tammy Landeen served in the United States Army from 1996-2005 as a Tactical Power Generation Specialist. In 2002, Tammy was injured while on Active Duty, and after her service ended, she suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury while horseback riding. As a result of this accident, Tammy is now in a wheelchair.

Recovery from this accident was rough. Tammy remembers that the most significant hurdle she faced was herself. She shut down and didn’t want to associate with anyone but her immediate family. She was angry. Tammy struggled with day-to-day activities like dressing herself or maneuvering independently--actions that most of us take for granted.

Now, Tammy is gardening, cycling, and sailing when weather permits and snowmobiling with her husband in the Winter. They ride the trails in Maine, sometimes traveling over 100 miles in one day! Tammy is attracted to the movement and peacefulness of nature and states, “I’m not disabled on my snowmobile!”

Tammy is working with QL+ Engineering students at Virginia Tech to create a Wheelchair Tire Change Device. As with all QL+ Challenges, we asked her what would make her life better. What is the one thing that you used to do but can’t? Tammy explained that as an outdoors person living in Maine, she often tracks dirt, gravel, and snow into her house. She needs assistance to change or clean the tires on her wheelchair before she goes inside. She asked the students at Virginia Tech to develop a custom device to allow her to change her tires independently. As Tammy explains, “I make my husband take off his shoes before he comes in the house to prevent additional sweeping and moping. If no one’s home to help me change my wheels, I have no choice but to track in mud.”

Tammy is working directly with the QL+ students to design this device. She provides them with invaluable feedback and keeps them motivated to do their best work. Tammy’s participation in the program is what makes it a success. She is helping us build better engineers.

Tammy states, “QL+ is amazing. The ability to tell an engineer exactly what would make my life better and easier and have my opinion be a part of the design process is exciting. The students listen to me and base their design on my feedback. They enjoy interacting with me and learning about the challenges I face. I am proud to be part of this amazing program.”