Aaron Waldman is a Senior at Virginia Tech, scheduled to graduate in May 2021.  He is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering and Entrepreneurship.  Aaron is a member of the QL+ Student Chapter at Virginia Tech.  Aaron is working on a project for David Clark.  David is the mayor of the town of Pulaski in Virginia.  He has nerve problems on the side of his right knee, which inhibits the control of his lower quads, hamstrings, and part of his calf muscle.  The goal of the project is to develop a leg stabilization system to allow him to safely and properly operate a bicycle.

Why did you choose your major?  I always knew I wanted to go into the medical profession.  I grew up with my aunt, who was paralyzed and constrained to a wheelchair.  My dad and I helped build her ramps, remodel rooms for accessibility, and made tools for her to complete regular tasks around the house.  When I got involved with robotics and STEM programs in high school, it molded my interests to combine the two fields.  These experiences lead me to mechanical engineering with a focus on biomedical engineering.
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Why did you join the QL+ Student Chapter?  I was one of the founders at our Student Chapter here at Virginia Tech.  I received an email from a student advisor talking about building interest for a club that develops medical assistive devices for veterans and those in the community.  I thought there was nothing better suited for me and what I wanted to do in the future.  I was the first treasurer of the club, and my main goal was to build a solid financial foundation for the club.  I also wanted to establish strong partnerships with local businesses to continually support our endeavors.

Describe your experience working with QL+ so far.  QL+ has been nothing but rewarding for me.  I enjoy seeing our Challengers use and appreciate the hard work and dedication we put towards developing their assistive devices.  The biggest challenge has been staying with the timeline and completing all my schoolwork simultaneously.  Working on a project I enjoy motivates me to make time to meet these deadlines.  I have learned many applicable skills working on design projects from obtaining/ meeting customer needs to more technical skills such as coding and electrical wiring.

What is it like working with your Challenger?  It is heartwarming to get out of the classroom to meet with the people who asked us to help them complete simple daily tasks.  I felt great knowing someone appreciates my team's work and effort that we put towards helping the Challenger.  Our Public Relations Chair connected us with all of our Challengers.  In the business world, I was able to develop my customer needs, searching skills, and asking the right questions to determine what route would be best for the Challenger.

What would you say to other students about your QL+ Student Chapter?  I would tell other students how rewarding this experience has been for me.   We have been on campus for less than a year and were nominated for a university-wide club excellence award.

What are your plans after graduation?  I plan to work with advanced prosthetics, whether it be in research or a corporate setting.  Eventually, I want to run a biomedical startup.
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What has been the proudest moment of your college career?  The proudest moment was showing one of the QL+ Chapter Challengers the progress we made on a prosthetic hand developed for him.   Just seeing the amazement and appreciation in his face made me very proud.

What three words best describe you? Ambitious. Patient.  Open-minded.

The purpose of the QL+ Student Spotlight is to highlight our incredible students, our university partners, and the life-changing work our students are doing to improve the quality of life of people in their communities.