Engineering Freshmen Designing Mobility Cart for 'Man's Best Friend'

Friday, November 20, 2020

Boots is a 10-week old Pembroke Welsh Corgi whose front legs were not properly developed at birth. Laura Russell, the dog’s owner, contacted The William States Lee College of Engineering to find out if students wanted to tackle the challenge of assisting Boots.

The Lee College’s Freshman Learning Community (FLC) agreed to design and build a mobility cart for the puppy not only to help out the dog but to begin to develop their engineering skills.

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

The students’ initial meeting with Boots was on Nov. 17. They took some measurements, discussed initial designs and interacted with the puppy.

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.”