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Senior engineering students design ball launcher, painting device for teens with cerebral palsy

A staff of 5 LSU Engineering seniors have labored on a ball launcher for his or her capstone design mission underneath the supervision of LSU Mechanical Engineering Teacher Dave Giurintano. Credit: LSU Faculty of Engineering

Her eyes squint to sharpen her focus whereas her mouth curves right into a smile and her fingers push down on the controller, sending a baseball flying by means of the air. For the previous 12 months, 14-year-old Emerson Allen has patiently waited for this second when she would lastly be capable of play ball along with her classmates.

Allen, a local of Baton Rouge, was born with cerebral palsy, a situation that impacts motion and muscle coordination. Eager to be part of college actions and take part on her Miracle League baseball staff, Allen and her college, St. Lillian Academy in Baton Rouge, collaborated with Louisiana State University (LSU) Engineering college students on a mission that may permit her to launch a baseball into the air.

Since fall 2021, a staff of 5 LSU Engineering seniors has labored on this capstone design mission underneath the supervision of LSU Mechanical Engineering Teacher Dave Giurintano. The staff members embody ME seniors Camille Wetekamm of Mandeville; Sven Newhauser of Baton Rouge; Charlie Williams of New Orleans; and electrical engineering seniors Molly Shepherd (staff captain) and Thomas Rinaudo, each of Baton Rouge.

“Emerson is super sweet,” Wetekamm stated. “Every time we meet her, she says, ‘Ohhhhh yeah.’ We know we have to finish this project for school, but we also have this alternate driving force, which is to finish it for Emerson. This is going to impact her life and potentially other students at St. Lillian. It’s a really special project that is rare in the capstone realm.”

Elissa McKenzie, one of many founders of St. Lillian Academy, reached out to the Faculty of Engineering to see if college students would be capable of construct one thing for Allen, permitting her to take part in baseball video games.

“Every year for the past 10 years, I submit a number of projects to the capstone groups,” McKenzie stated. “We’ve done numerous projects with LSU, and the capstone teams have always come up with such amazing and creative ideas that have helped some of our students. What these LSU Engineering students do for us is incredible.”

When the LSU capstone staff attended considered one of Allen’s baseball video games, they noticed that the youngsters had been throwing the ball about 20 toes, which advised them that the ball launcher they had been going to design did not must be very quick. The launcher is a two-part system that makes use of a motorized PVC pipe and controller. The three ft.-by-3 ft. machine acts as an enormous pinball plunger hooked up to a motor and linear actuator that may be programmed for ball-launch distance by utilizing a excessive/low change.

Allen makes use of the controller, which was designed particularly for her left-handed vary of movement, to press buttons that ship a sign to the launcher telling it to throw left, proper, up or down. Allen selected the colours for every command button on the controller, with crimson because the launch coloration. The staff additionally added security sensors in order that the ball launcher will not work if anybody is inside 10 toes of its entrance.

“We designed the user interface for Emerson to be challenging but to also give her a sense of accomplishment when the ball lands where she wants it to land,” Rinaudo stated.

St. Lillian plans on protecting the launcher machine on the college for Allen and different college students who could possibly use it sooner or later.

LSU Engineering Seniors Design Ball Launcher, Painting Device for Teens with Cerebral Palsy
A staff of LSU Mechanical and Laptop Engineering college students lately accomplished its senior capstone design mission helps a younger man with cerebral palsy to color on a canvas utilizing solely eye and head actions. Credit: LSU Faculty of Engineering

“It’s so great to do a capstone project that has an effect on someone’s life and will change the way they can interact with friends,” Wetekamm stated.

“It’s very exciting,” Shepherd stated. “She’s very excited to use the launcher. She made us all go out there and catch the ball, and she learned all of our names, so it was a very good experience to see her enjoy a device that we put a lot of effort into.”


A staff of LSU Mechanical and Laptop Engineering college students lately accomplished its senior capstone design mission, which was to design a program that permits 18-year-old William Bradford, a former pupil of Our Girl of the Lake Kids’s Hospital Kids’s Developmental Heart at McMains, to color on a canvas utilizing solely eye and head actions. Bradford, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, loves to color and is in a position to take action extra simply now thanks to those 4 LSU college students and their Artwork-Eaux-Matic mission.

Laptop Engineering seniors Timothy Curol of Lake Charles, La., Emily Vu of Metairie, La., and Mechanical Engineering senior Jack Clement of Iowa, La., and Mechanical Engineering junior alternate pupil Ewan Robertson of Scotland have labored on this portray mission since fall 2021. Utilizing a pc display hooked up to his wheelchair, Bradford is ready to use his eyes and head to decide on colours and “tell” the paintbrush which course to maneuver, creating brushstrokes on the canvas that mimic what Bradford sees on his display.

“I helped with the software design of this mission,” Curol stated. “We developed an app that works with eye gaze and head switch control to paint on a computer screen, then send that information to the device. It was programmed in Java coding language.”

Vu labored with Curol on the codes for the app and for shifting the motors, whereas Clement and Robertson labored on getting the comb to maneuver. Clement created the machine that rotates the comb on and off the canvas, and Robertson designed the half that strikes the comb up and down or aspect to aspect on the canvas.

“It was exciting to combine engineering and something I’m passionate about,” Robertson stated. “I love working with kids with disabilities, which I do back home in Scotland when I teach kids with disabilities to swim.”

“This project was so much fun,” Vu stated. “I just like seeing the paint on the canvas, and we all became friends through the process. It’s really nice to see William have fun as well.”

Curol stated he not solely loved working with Bradford and his household, nevertheless it was additionally an important expertise rising a variety of his personal abilities on the mission. Clement was additionally grateful to Bradford’s household for its assist on the mission and was impressed with Bradford’s portray abilities.

“William has always loved to paint,” Bradford’s mom Anne Marie stated. “This now gives him the opportunity to do things without so much of my help and him doing it solely on his own, which he likes. This is such an amazing success and win for all kids with a disability.”

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Senior engineering college students design ball launcher, portray machine for teenagers with cerebral palsy (2022, May 16)
retrieved 16 May 2022

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