to improve lives through design
Travis Beckman’s final project for the Introduction to Engineering Design and Manufacturing course was as much a personal passion as a college assignment. Beckman’s team chose to design and build a recumbent tricycle for a four-year-old named Joshua whose medical condition led to amputation of both his legs.
“I had my own brush with medical problems in high school and was frustrated by being limited by my body. I became interested in rehabilitative medical technologies, especially prosthetics and similar technologies to help amputees regain their full quality of life,” Beckman ’15 said.
To design a tricycle Joshua could operate himself, the students contacted his parents about his condition and needs. They called manufacturers of similar tricycles. They discussed their ideas and progress with Professor Elizabeth Orwin ’95. And they set to work in the Engineering E4 Design Studio.
“The studio was our main site to brainstorm, design and build the recumbent tricycle. The tools and materials allowed us to rapidly prototype ideas, which streamlined our early design process. That’s also where we hacked, sawed, hammered and glued our way to finishing the design. The open area in the front allowed efficient brainstorming and discussion using the whiteboards and tables,” Beckman said. “During class, the openness of the space facilitated discussion like no other classroom at the College.”