QL+ Program Manager: Col Court Allen, USAF (Ret.).
Prof. Joel Bach, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering Director, Center for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research
Chelsea Salinas, Adjunct Faculty, Industry Advisor
Senior Capstone Faculty Advisors: Donna Bodeau, Robin Bullock, Tony Vandenberg, and Sue Anderson
Hypersensitive Hearing: Humberto is a former North Carolina State Trooper. In 2009, while on patrol investigating a collision on the interstate, another vehicle rear-ended his patrol car while he was still inside it. As a result of the crash, Humberto suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and several other debilitating conditions, including Hyperacusis, a hearing disorder characterized by an increased sensitivity to sound.
A team of QL+ engineering students at Mines are working on a project to help Humberto cope with his hypersensitive hearing issue for their Capstone Design course. The team’s challenge is to design a device that can help reduce the pain and discomfort that Humberto experiences daily from his hypersensitive hearing. The measure of the effectiveness of the device they design is whether it offers an improvement over other devices he has tried in the past and allows he and his wife to enjoy public activities in comfort.
Hand Cycle Grips: Ray Clark is Program Manager for Project HERO at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a bike mechanic and cycling coach for Veterans that use or prefer a hand cycle for fitness and competition. Hand cycle grips are one size and not easily and quickly adapted for variable hand geometries, and hand or arm capabilities. It is not unusual for Veterans to have reconstructed hands, prosthetics, missing fingers, asymmetric strength, or other conditions that make use of standard grips difficult or are uncomfortable over long periods of use. Ray has asked student engineers from Mines to design a capability to quickly and easily fabricate durable customizable hand cycle grips for a range of scenarios and conditions.
Military Grade Wrist Brace: Radial nerve palsy is most frequently sustained in humeral fractures and gunshot injuries. High velocity mechanisms of injury such as gunshot wounds and blasts are common in military populations. Outcomes of this injury vary and depend on if the nerve was transected or damaged, and at what level the injury to the nerve occurred.
The Challenge is to design and fabricate a military grade radial nerve palsy splint for use by service members in order to stay operationally qualified for active duty. Current splints have limitations for returning to active duty in terms of durability, susceptibility to various environmental factors, strength, maintaining high performance/function, and a low-profile aesthetic. The Ideal splint will have a low profile; position the wrist in slight extension and allow for slight radial/ulnar deviation; have strong pulleys for digit extension that are adjustable; be made from a durable material; and function for activities such as shooting, climbing, and free fall parachute jumps.
Mono-Ski Transport: Tyler Wilson is an Army Veteran who served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Sky Soldiers. Over thirteen years ago, while serving as part of a QRF in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, he was shot four times while in a firefight. The first bullet lodged in his spinal cord and second nearly ending his life as it ripped through his lung and embedded in his liver. Tyler is currently a college student and is very active in the outdoors with his wife, son and friends. Having enjoyed skiing his entire life, he is now an avid mono skier. However, he has a difficult time trying to transport his mono ski from the car to the slopes and back again. Maneuvering around the resort is a challenge, with every resort has varying degrees of accessibility to the slopes and parking. The engineering students are tasked with the Challenge of creating a device that will help Tyler transport his mono-ski independently while he is in his wheelchair, thus freeing his wife to transport with her equipment and their young son. His preference is to have a system that can affix to his chair to tow his ski as opposed to one that is pushed or carried, so that he can independently transport/carry his mono-ski from place to place. It also needs to traverse uneven, ice and snow-covered terrain typical around a ski resort base area.
Prosthetic Arm Accessories: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician Taylor Morris became expert in explosives, diving, parachuting, as well as the tactical skills of a combat fighter. While deployed to a remote region of the Kandahar Province he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that blew off parts of all four of his limbs.
Taylor’s Challenge to the engineering students is to build a capability to safely store, quickly access, and charge various small, common-use tools for use with his prosthetic arm. This will allow him to more easily do a variety of daily activities. In particular, he wants to safely store, access, and charge a standard ink pen, combo laser/LED/UV light, basic X-acto knife, and Tesla-style electric lighter. These items must be integrated with his prosthetic arm and be comfortable, durable, and lightweight. They must also be able to support recharging the light and lighter tools.
Prosthetic Arm Shooting Assistance: Jorge Segura is a combat wounded Marine and amputee. In 2010, his squad was conducting foot-patrols in the Helmand Provence/Kaiaki Dam District and were suddenly ambushed by Taliban. Rounds immediately struck Jorge and three other fellow Marines. About 45 percent of his arm was blown off. Subsequently, Jorge had 26 surgeries to try and salvage his limb. Jorge decided after seven years, to amputate his arm above the elbow. One of his passions is hunting and shooting, but he is unable to effectively fire a rifle because of his prosthetic arm. The recoil can make the prosthetic fall off or render unfunctional given the internal electronics. Also, his shooting accuracy is affected by his inability to raise his arm high enough. Jorge’s Challenge to the engineering students is to build him a shooting and hunting prosthetic or ancillary device that will allow him to hold up his guns and shoot accurately. This would then enable him to pursue his passion of hunting and shooting.
Adaptive Field and Stream Improvements: The River Deep Alliance is dedicated to providing healing and support services to military veterans, active duty personnel or other individuals with disabilities who have experienced physical injury or psychological and emotional trauma. The alliance organizes hunting, fishing, archery instruction and other outings for military veterans and other individuals with disabilities. The participants have experienced TBI and/or Spinal injuries that have left them with a range of disabilities and challenges. These therapeutic activities provide an opportunity for a day of peace, relaxation, camaraderie and, fun in a safe, supportive environment.
The range of participant disability presents the challenge of providing quickly tailorable and affordable modifications to equipment used in Field and Stream activities. Many current adaptions are dated, obsolete, incomplete, unsupportable, or non-existent. Mines student engineers will work on improvements to the most needed adaptions and their specific use requirements. Examples include a one-arm archer release and bow holder for individual with limited hand and forearm use and improvements to existing fishing rod and reel adaptions.
Socket Air Pump: Chris Roseberry lives in central Maine and works with the Travis Mills Foundation. Chris was in the US Army for 21 years and lost his right leg in 2005. He then re-injured it in Afghanistan in 2010, resulting in removal of four more inches from his leg in 2015. The engineering students are challenged to design a working prototype or proof of concept for Chris that is adjustable throughout the day to account for volume changes in lower limb. It must be comfortable and supportive, not cause skin breakdown, stay on, eliminate the need for a liner or sleeve on the limb, and is manual or mechanical.
Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Leg: In leisure fighting contact sports, officials are especially strict about the safety of all parties involved. Army Veteran Rustin Hughes is a passionate boxer and mixed martial arts competitor who is currently unable to participate in competitions because of his prosthetic leg. According to officials, his prosthetic must have an adequate cover to protect competitors from injury from contact. The current prosthetic covers are mostly just aesthetic covers and do not offer the cushioning or athletic features Rustin requires. The Mines student engineers are tasked with designing and building a prosthetic cover that will tailor to the dynamic and non-dynamic leg areas. Additionally, the design of the cover must not hinder the prosthetic movement with its girth or weight. For ease of use, the cover will need to be easily removable and washable.
About Colorado School of Mines:
Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. With the highest admission standards of any public university in Colorado and among the highest of any public university in the United States, “Mines” as the school is known, has been setting the standard since its founding in 1874. Producing industry-ready scientists and engineers, Mines students are well known for their work ethic, problem-solving ability, and team focus. Mines graduates are in great demand by companies and government entities around the world and are involved in solving many of the major technical and societal challenges of our times. Tenacity, talent, dedication, accountability, and social responsibility are hallmarks of this pioneering institution.