wheelchairTwo projects from the current cohort of the UAB Business Engineering Design Course, a course that joins business and engineering students together to provide innovative, technical solutions to the disabled community, have been selected as finalists for the 2014 da Vinci Awards.

For more than 15 years, and with the assistance of a National Science Foundation grant, engineering and business seniors have partnered with various community agencies including Children’s of Alabama, United Cerebral Palsy, and others, to create biomedical devices to aid people with disabilities. The course challenges students to join together and putt their knowledge to work by tackling real-world problems with innovative solutions.  Engineering students work with their client to identify an engineering need. Business students develop a market analysis and business model then create a prototype.

One of the UAB projects selected as a finalists is a wheelchair for toddlers that is controlled by a joystick. On a budget of $1500, undergraduates Ryan Densmore, Shelby May, Daniel McFalls and Stephen Mehi designed the wheelchair model that has already been used in the Birmingham community at the Lakeshore Foundation and the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs.

“The entire project was an opportunity to apply all the knowledge I have accumulated over my four years at UAB,”  said Densmore, a senior from Morris, AL. “It is a great feeling to help someone, especially children.”

The second project, a Scale-Metrix Wheelchair Scale used for at-home weight monitoring, provides a more accessible and cost efficient option for patients to store and track their measurements to report to their healthcare provider. The device weighs approximately 50% less than comparable options, has a weight capacity of 800 pounds, and includes a touch-screen LCD display with an SD card.  Student designers include Jarrod Collins, Josh Haynes, Austin Johnson, and Brandon Sherrod, in partnership with Dr. Alan Eberhardt.

The da Vinci Awards, a prestigious, international forum celebrating the latest, most impactful research and developments of assistive and adaptive technology, will select winners in the following categories: Communication/Educational Aids, Environmental Adaptation / Daily Living or Work Aids, Prosthetics / Orthotics / Controls, Recreation and Leisure, and Transportation and Mobility.  Other finalists competing with UAB for the awards include projects from the United States, Switzerland, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.

Winners will be announced live at the da Vinci Awards event on April 10th at the Ford Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, Michigan. All proceeds from the awards program will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.