Abigail Eustace is a senior studying mechanical engineering at Colorado School of Mines. She decided to study mechanical engineering after volunteering at a National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) event.
While volunteering at that event, she had the chance to spend the afternoon learning about different games from a child with Down Syndrome. “At the end of the afternoon, the child’s mother thanked me but acted as if my time had been wasted with her child. She could not have been more wrong,” she explains, “My passion for working with people with disabilities was ignited that afternoon as I experienced the impact of creating a sense of normalcy for a person with a disability.”
Since that pivotal day, she has spent six years volunteering to help people with physical and cognitive disabilities with the goal of better understanding the challenges they face. “I am committed to making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and feel the best way to assist people with disabilities is to pursue the discipline of mechanical engineering to develop the ability to solve complex problems.” The reasons she volunteers with the NSCD are the same reasons she joined a QL+ team for her senior design project. She explains, “QL+ allows me to make a positive difference in a veteran’s life.”
Abigail is the team lead for the Manual Beach Wheelchair Challenge for Navy Veteran Nathan DeWalt. Her team is adding different components for Nathan to attach to his existing wheelchair to allow him to have an easier time enjoying the beach with his family. For her, the most challenging part of this QL+ Challenge is designing for a diverse environment—sand, water, gravel, pavement, grass, and mud. But to her, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “The most rewarding part so far has been seeing the excitement Nathan has when we show him our updated designs,” she states, “This experience benefits my career. It helps me gain more knowledge about adaptive devices.”
Abigail believes this project also helps Colorado School of Mines. “When other students see us working on our project, it peaks their curiosity. They ask questions.” She adds, “Through this project, we can show other students how they can make a positive difference in other’s lives by using the engineering skills they learned from many courses at Colorado School of Mines. Working on a QL+ Challenge will change their lives.”
After she graduates in May, Abigail will be headed off to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a focus in biomechanics. Her ultimate goal is to make a positive difference in people’s lives with medical devices she designs. We do not doubt that she will reach her goal!