February 13, 2020


Neddie Byron graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2018.  She majored in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Biomedical Engineering.  Neddie and her teammates worked on the Push-up/Plank Challenge.  The goal of the project was to design and manufacture an assistive exercise device for an Army veteran with a right arm amputation.  At the time, she was unable to do core exercises without imbalance and the potential uneven development of abdominal muscles.  The team was tasked with designing a device that would allow her to do core exercises (such as push-ups and planks) that would promote the healthy development of core muscles.  The team successfully completed the project and our Challenger uses the device often.

Did you obtain a higher level of education since graduating?  Not yet, but I am planning to pursue a medical degree in the future.

Where are you employed?  I am currently a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

What are you working on the University of Michigan?  I am participating in the University of Michigan's MEDPREP post-baccalaureate program, which is a pre-med program designed for students with a bachelor's degree who are "career changers" switching into medicine.  Through this program, I am taking pre-requisite courses for medical school that I didn't take during my engineering studies.  After completion of the program in 2020, I will apply to medical school.

Describe your experience working with QL+.  The biggest challenge of the project was not being able to work directly with our challenger for the majority of the project.  We understood that she was busy and we made the most of the time we had with her, however we highly valued her input on the device and wished we could have worked with her more.  Another challenge was designing a device that a person would be directly using.  There were a lot of human factors to consider that we didn't typically learn about in our engineering classes.  The most rewarding part of the project was knowing that our end product was going to help someone improve their daily life.  In addition to the bio-mechanical and manufacturing information I learned while working on the project, I also learned a lot about how to be a better leader and work with a diverse team.

Working with our challenger was a great experience.  She was very supportive and gave us great feedback about our device to help us make improvements to better suit her needs.  From the challenger, I learned about perseverance and not letting any obstacles get in the way of your goals.

Did your involvement with QL+ aid in the path you chose to follow after graduation?  Yes, my involvement with QL+ helped me choose my path after graduation.  After working on the project, I knew I wanted to be in a position and field that would allow me to give back to others and make an impact on their lives.  This prompted the desire to switch into the medical field and helped me find the program I'm currently in.

What is your fondest memory of working on the QL+ Challenge?  My fondest memory of working on the QL+ Challenge was testing our device for the first time and realizing that it actually worked!  Not only was it exciting to see our device in action, but it gave my team and I the confidence that our design would work well for our challenger.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started
working on the QL+ Challenge?  
Advice I'd give myself when I first started the project would be to not get hung up on the first idea you think is great.  My team and I came up with a design early on that we really liked and started pursuing it in detail, without continuing to consider other designs as viable options.  We ended up switching our design last minute to something significantly better, and could have saved a lot of time and stress if we had been more open in the beginning.

The purpose of Where Are They Now? is to highlight our QL+ Alumni:  the life-changing work they did to help our Challengers and how their experiences with QL+ shaped their current professions.

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