Eric Voisin is no stranger to the challenges faced by people in a wheelchair. His motivation for this project is to help his brother with cerebral palsy and to develop a better backpack mount for him. The vision for the this project was for it to tuck neatly behind the wheelchair, latch in place securely, swing around for easy access, and be able to be operated by the rider with as easy to use interface with the motor operated hinge. Eric and his group spent the first semester of senior design coming up with the design and running all of the F.E.A. (finite element analysis) of each of the components and the system as a whole to make sure it could withstand the weight of a backpack and the durability required.
In the second semester of senior design, Eric was also enrolled in ME 449 (Prototype and Redesign) in which he had to complete all the machining for a Stirling Engine and was also the lead fabricator for his group. He spent about 55 to 60 hours in the shop machining the hinge parts, from the bearing housing, the shafts, the motor mount, and the fixture clamp. He came into the shop in his last semester at UW with having only a green pass and he said that he is a lot more comfortable with the machines and confident in his design being able to be made.
Future work would include installing the motor on the unit, redesigning the motor mount to accept standard size belts and other standard parts, finishing the latching system, more mounting options for different styles of wheelchairs, and finishing the operating system for the rider. Eric graduated and he is starting his engineering career as a rotational engineer at Sub-Zero.