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'Mechanical creeper' helps disabled man work again


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LOGAN — Mechanical engineering students at Utah State University are putting out the word that they are looking for a challenge.

Specifically, a grant they received last year has left them wanting to design and build devices that will help improve the lives of people with a disability. And the more difficult the challenge the better.

"So we have teamed up with the assistive of technology with the Center for Persons with Disabilities to provide projects directly related to persons with disabilities," said Steve Hansen, a research professor in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department.

The students custom built this "creeper" for a Logan man named Albert LaBounty who always loved working on his car, but lost the use of his legs in an accident 20 years ago. The device makes it possible for a person to easily slide from a wheelchair, and within about 40-seconds, via a control box, be lowered into position and ready to work under the vehicle.

"It gets about three inches off the ground and can easily be pulled in and out from under the vehicle," said L.J. Wilde, a USU grad student.

"You could tell when Albert got into that chair he was really excited to get underneath that car to see a lot of the things he hadn't seen in a long time," added Andrew Shupe, another USU student. "He was really excited to use it and demo it."


To us, this is a very big deal.

–Clay Christensen


USU received last fall a $125,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop projects to help the disabled, or anyone who has a progressive disorder, where mechanical help is needed.

So, USU wants to hear from anyone in Utah who might benefit.

"So we're looking to the public, if there are problems that could be eventually solved by our senior engineers, that we could do them as design projects," Hansen said. "We have money to pay for them."

And if the device works, the person can keep it.

"To us, this is a very big deal," said Clay Christensen, assistive lab coordinator. "We don't take it lightly and every project, small or large, is treated equally."

USU has enough funding to work on these projects for the next 5 years, and all finished devices will include USU's colors and the Aggie "A".

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Keith McCord

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