Electrical engineering students Victoria Antell, left, and Emaleigh Sargent were part of the USA Capstone Project team that modified a toy vehicle on behalf of a handicapped child. They’re holding a relay board used to reverse polarity for the wheel motors, which allows for forward and reverse drive direction. [Photo Credit: University of South Alabama]
South Alabama students turn toy vehicle into learning tool for children with disabilities
It started out as a senior project, and it ended up helping change lives.
Every fall semester, senior engineering students at the University of South Alabama receive a list of group projects to consider for their Senior Design Capstone Project. “Students by this time have learned theory and ‘how-to,’” said Dr. David Nelson, professor and chair of mechanical engineering. “Now, they have to design it. In doing so, they can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s a great teaching tool.”
For the 2016-2017 academic year, one of the chosen projects was undertaken with input from Hargrove Engineers and Constructorsin Mobile. A Hargrove employee had learned of a handicapped child who needed a powered wheelchair and, through the Hargrove Adaptive Toy– or HAT – Project, contacted USA. The HAT Project, which was launched in 2016, takes off-the-shelf toy vehicles and modifies them for children with disabilities to practice with as they prepare to possibly use a powered wheelchair.