Engineering Freshmen Designing Mobility Cart for Handicapped Puppy

Friday, November 20, 2020

To start developing their engineering skills and at the same do some good, students from The William States Lee College of Engineering’s Freshman Learning Community (FLC) are volunteering their time to design and build a mobility cart for a handicapped puppy.

There are no practical devices to help handicapped dogs through their first year of life when they are growing fast, so the puppy’s owner, Laura Russell, approached UNC Charlotte about helping.

“Laura called and asked if we would be interested in working on this,” said Meg Harkins, director of the engineering FLC. “Fifteen students from the FLC volunteered to help. They aren’t getting any academic credit for this, and are doing it on their own time.”

The students got their first chance to meet Boots, a 10-week old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, on Nov. 17th. The first meeting was to take some measurements, discuss initial designs and get to know Boots a little.

The project has been great for student engagement, Ms. Harkins said. “In a semester when the students have mostly been sitting in Zoom meetings, today they are outside together laughing and doing something meaningful.”

To build a mobility cart for Boots, whose front legs were not properly developed when he was born, the FLC students are organized into three teams. Each team will develop a design for the cart, then meet with Ms. Russell to refine or combine plans as needed to come up with the best solution. The students will build the final product using 3D printers in the FLC’s Creativity Laboratory.

The Russells, Boot’s family, have a number of ties to UNC Charlotte including a student in Business and an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychological Science. “We are 49ers through and through,” Ms. Russell said. “We know how great the engineering program here is, so we knew this would be the perfect place to design a cart for Boots. I’ve been so impressed with these young men and women. The ideas they have come up with are so impressive.”