Senior engineering students test their education for area projects

Contact: Cindy Wagner

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—It may be winter now, but during warmer days, White Oaks assisted living residents and staff in Lawton, Michigan, have a new outdoor activity thanks to a team of Western Michigan University engineering students—a modified adult tricycle that safely and comfortably accommodates a wheelchair.

“White Oaks was looking to find new activities for their residents. It came down to wanting a bicycle that would allow the residents who use wheelchairs to enjoy a ride,” says engineering design technology student Kamryn Veryser. Other team members include engineering design technology majors Jonas Amundsen, Sidney Wager and Josh Wylie and manufacturing engineering technology major Parker Martin.

“Safety was our number one priority, so we concluded that the best option would be to purchase a base model tricycle to modify,” adds Wager. The bike is powered from the back by staff members with residents enjoying a front-row view.

After testing and initial feedback from staff and residents, the Western team designed a new harness for the seat, a cup holder, adjustments to the footrests, a basket on the rear of the tricycle and an oxygen tank holder. Using 3D printing technology to test their modifications, the team applied numerous design techniques to achieve the desired results.

“We applied the engineering design process from start to finish,” says Martin. “The opportunity to create 3D parts and visualize what we designed was very satisfying and rewarding.”

“We definitely satisfied the needs of White Oaks; this project could also be taken on by another senior design team to incorporate even more design elements,” adds Wylie. 

More projects during Senior Design Engineering Conference

The White Oaks bike project is just one of 40 that will be showcased Tuesday, Dec. 7, as part of Western's 69th College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Senior Design Conference. Graduating students work in teams on industry projects to test and showcase their engineering skills.

“The Senior Design Conference is an important, culminating event for our senior students—the results designing, building, and testing in their respective disciplines,” says Dr. Steve Butt, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “This event celebrates their dedication, perseverance and excellence.”

Projects represent numerous engineering disciplines and include a 3D walk-through of an archaeology dig site, an electric vehicle infrastructure plan, a facilities design for an expanding candle company, a conceptual framework for the development of a scramjet hypersonic missile, a wrist-training device for recovery strength, a greenhouse monitoring system and more.

Students will present their feats in Floyd Hall throughout the day; guests may attend in person or virtually. A list of participating students and their projects, many of which are sponsored by southwest Michigan companies, is available on the event's webpage, as well as the presentation schedule.

“Applying the skills we have learned throughout our years in college prepared us for this final project,” says Amundsen of the White Oaks team. “We take away the satisfaction and enjoyment of finishing our senior design project as a team.”

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.