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MSU students help design one-of-a-kind wheelchair

MSU Wheelchair Design
Posted at 9:43 AM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 11:43:55-05

BOZEMAN — A Montana non-profit has found some help from Montana State University students in helping design and construct a unique wheelchair that will help mobilize people with disabilities around the world.

ROC Wheels is a non-profit organization out of Four Corners that designs, constructs and delivers free wheelchairs to people with disabilities around the world.

Since they opened, they’ve delivered around 11,000 wheelchairs to people with disabilities. Last semester, they paired up with MSU engineering students to makes some upgrades to an existing prototype.

“This chair is designed to empower people with disabilities to stretch, move, recline, tilt and even get out of the chair under their own power,” said Wayne Hanson, co-founder of ROC Wheels.

Kevin Kruse heard about ROC Wheels and their work and decided to put his mechanical engineering training to the test.

“For our capstone project we were just doing the seating platform. So the seat just tilts and is supposed to tilt around your center of mass so as you're just moving naturally, the seat is supposed to follow you and tilt with you,” said Kruse, who recently graduated from MSU.

ROC Wheels’ Activ8r wheelchair has seen the help of two MSU capstone classes, and next semester will be another project that will help enable people around the world to move.

“It was nice to be able to do something that is actually going to be used. It’s actually going to affect somebody’s life in a positive way,” said Tanner Sachse, another recent graduate from MSU’s engineering program.

MSU Adviser Loribeth Evertz says she’s pleased with the students’ careful design work.

“Sometimes adds a little bit of a stress factor, in that they are impacting someone’s life, and if something does go wrong it affects a human,” said Evertz. “But often times this stress is good, and it helps them to perform and do a good job.”

Hanson says he has high hopes for the chair and will enter it for licensing this spring.

ROC Wheels has delivered around 11,000 wheelchairs to people with disabilities around the world. Click here to learn how to donate to ROC Wheels.