Our Partnership With Cal Poly


About Cal Poly

QL+ Program Manager: Barbara Springer, PT, PhD

QL+ Mentors:

Alan Strasbaugh, Retired, Owner of Strasbaugh Engineering

Dr. Tom Mase, Retired, Cal Poly ME Professor

Faculty Advisors:

Dr. Lily Laiho Department of BioMedical Engineering QL+ Lab Director

Dr. Peter Schuster Department of Mechanical Engineering

QL+ Projects:


Navy SEAL Hand Prosthetic : Tosh was a Navy SEAL for 23 years. During a training exercise an explosive device was detonated while he was holding it, removing his left hand just above the wrist. After retirement Tosh remained active training SEALs and working for a nonprofit that rescues girls victimized by human trafficking. Students at Cal Poly will be building him a prosthetic hand that will help him perform tasks while training SEALs and other military personnel.

Sand Foot : Craig lost his leg from an IED in 2010 while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. Craig is currently on the Gold Medal winning USA Sled Hockey Team! Students from Cal Poly will be building him a lower leg prosthetic to help him walk on the beach with ease and less pain.

Surf Leg: Operation Surf is a nonprofit organization that teaches wounded military and veterans how to surf in order to bring healing peace. Van Curaza, the founder, has been teaching surfing for over 30 years and noticed that there have not been any leg prosthetics made to help people surf. Prosthetics are made either for walking or running and in no way help with balancing on a board or turning on a wave. Van has challenged our students to build a first-of-its-kind surf leg to help surfers with lower leg amputations, like Kelly Slater.

Cooking Arm: In 2010, Jorge lost his right arm while serving in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. Before his injury, he loved to cook and prepare food. Thus far, Jorge hasn’t found a prosthetic that allows him to perform these tasks efficiently. Jorge has challenged the students to build him a cooking arm that will allow him to stir, cut, chop, pry, and fry, in his attempt to remaster the kitchen.

Mechanical Engineering

Trailer Hitch: Taylor was a Navy EOD Specialist who was wounded in 2012 and is one of the only surviving quadruple amputees. He was one of first QL+ Challengers and is back with another unique project. Taylor loves to stay active and has many trailers that use different size hitch balls. Changing out the hitches is a massive and tiring process that limits him from going out as often as he would like. He has challenged our ME students at Cal Poly to create a first-of-its- kind automatic hitch ball changer.

Recumbent Bike Transfers: Danny was a Navy fighter jet pilot for over 25 years. After service, he was struck by a car on his bicycle leaving him an incomplete quadriplegic. Danny still loves to ride is recumbent bike but needs the help of his wife or caregiver to lower him into his bike and to get him up out of it when he is finished. This is a very challenging task and is taking its toll on his wife. Danny has challenged the students to design a transfer device to help with these transfers.

About California Polytechnic State University:

Cal Poly is where QL+ was first established. The University’s motto “Learn by doing,” made a partnership with QL+ a perfect match. Since 2008, Cal Poly has been working on challenges for veterans and first responders across the country. More than 100 challenges have been presented to students in many engineering disciplines including Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Biomedical, Computer and Software Engineering. Cal Poly also boasts the largest QL+ Lab in the country, supporting students from the national program as well as the 150 members of the QL+ Student Association on campus.