QL+ engineering students from Virginia Tech were tasked with the Challenge of creating a Wheelchair Tire Change Device for QL+ Challenger and Army Veteran, Tammy Landeen. Tammy was involved in a horseback riding accident that resulted in the loss of her leg function. She lives in Maine and is an avid outdoors person. Tammy depends on others to help her change out her wheelchair wheels whenever they get dirty from outside activity. She challenged this team to design a device that would allow her to be more independent and improve her quality of life.
First, the team interviewed Tammy to learn what she needed the device to do to improve her quality of life. They discovered that Tammy’s safety and the chair’s integrity were integral aspects of the design. With Tammy’s needs established, the team determined the target specifications for each requirement.
The team conceptualized 29 different designs to solve the challenge ranging from the use of pulleys or using springs to having a linear actuator lift the wheelchair. By the end of the first semester, the team decided on a design with a ramp leading to a platform with lowering tracks. Although this was their primary design choice, Tammy provided the team with valuable input regarding the difficulty of rolling up a ramp backward. The team reevaluated their final concepts and decided to proceed with the linear actuator design.
The main components of the design included a v-block cuff, which was outsourced and the device frame and the device platform, both of which were built in-house. Once each section was made, and the device was fully assembled, the testing phase began. Tammy traveled to campus to try the device for initial testing and provide feedback. Tammy tried the device several times and loved it.
We are grateful for the team’s hard work and dedication to improving Tammy’s quality of life!