Our Partnership With Virginia Tech


About Virginia Tech

QL+ Program Manager: Janet Papazis, PT, DPT

QL+ Mentors: N/A

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Roan, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

QL+ Project:

Wheelchair Transfer Device: Our Challenger is an Air Force Veteran who retired in 1980 due to a spinal cord injury. He participates in off-roading and needs to use a make-shift ramp to transfer in and out of the elevated off-road vehicles. The Challenge is to design and build a lightweight and portable ramp that is collapsible, durable, waterproof, and stable. The ramp must allow him to lock his wheelchair in place. He must be able to deploy it independently and be able to transfer in and out of it independently.

Faculty Advisor: Genevieve Gural, Master’s Student, Mechanical Engineering

QL+ Project:

Enhanced Walker: Our Challenger is a retired Army Veteran who sustained an injury while mountain biking with his son. His suffered a spinal cord injury and is now a C-2 incomplete quadriplegic. The standard walkers tend to be too narrow and too shallow for our Challenger to balance himself. He can use a standard platform walker but even those have issues with fore/aft stability. Our Challenger attends physical therapy where he has been using a walker designed for use with an exoskeleton system. The walker is both deeper and wider than standard walkers and it has worked well for him. Unfortunately, he cannot purchase it—only medical facilities can. He believes that a better walker using slightly narrower dimensions and better wheels in the front would serve him well. Arm supports will most likely be needed: his goal is not to have to use them, but that might not be reasonable for “extended” use.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Pinar Acar, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Mentor: Col. Art Yeager, Staff Officer, Behavioral Health Svc - OTSG

QL+ Project:

Gym Hand: Our Challenger is a retired Navy Explosive Ordnance Device (EOD) Technician. While serving overseas, an improvised explosive device injured his right hand. He has an amputated middle, ring, and pinkie finger on his right hand. He likes to use the rowing machine, kettle bells, and dumbbell weights to maintain his physical fitness. Currently, he has hand grip designed for whole hand amputations, which don’t work or line up with his remaining fingers. As a result, items fly out of his hands and he has an uneven grip causing him to drop items. The Challenge is to create a functional and safe grip prosthetic or device for him to continue to engage in these activities, so that he can maintain his physical fitness and improve his quality of life.

Faculty Advisor: Robin Ott, Assoc. Professor of Practice, Mechanical Engineering

Mentor: Bob Lang, Ret., Technical Intelligence Officer

QL+ Project:

Wheelchair Tire Cleaner: QL+ mechanical engineering students are challenged to design a device to assist an Army Veteran who is a triple amputee. The Veteran would like to clean his electric wheelchair tires/wheels as he enters his home from outside.

About Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the Commonwealth of Virginia’s most comprehensive university and research institution, Virginia Tech offers 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programs serving over 33,000 students. Through a combination of its three missions of learning, discovery, and engagement, Virginia Tech continually strives to accomplish its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).