July 21, 2019


Our Innovative and Life-Changing Solutions

Team Members:  Mark Boswell, Brandon Luxemberg, Kevin Carroll, Joey Rivera, Josh Croney, Rachel Showers, John Moomaw, Chris White

Faculty Advisor:  Robin Ott

QL+ Program Manager:  Barb Springer

QL+ mechanical engineering students from Virginia Tech tackled the Spikeboard Challenge.  QL+ Challenger, Rob Jones is a double, above the knee, amputee that is committed to pushing himself past any obstacle.  Rob is a fellow Hokie that deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Marine Corps.  In 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan where his main role was to detect buried IEDs. Unfortunately, an IED exploded before he found it and he lost both of his legs in the incident.  Rob has by no means let his condition limit him in any way.  He won a bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympics as a tandem rower, ran 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different cities, and he has also cycled across the United States of America.

The team created and built an adaptive SpikeBoard that will allow Rob to land ski without assistance.

After many hours of concept generation, concept selection, prototyping and testing, our team was able to build a board that met all of our requirements including designing a board that is durable, lightweight, includes a brake and allows Rob to propel the board while maintaining his balance and land ski uphill, to switch his feet from side to side and to easily mount and dismount.

The board the team created has fenders to protect the wheels, a wedge to shifts Rob’s weight forward, Velcro footpads, tracks and vinyl flooring to help Rob switch feet, anti-rollback wheels to prevent Rob from rolling downhill, and most importantly, a wireless braking system so Rob can safely and easily mount and dismount the board.  With the machines and tools available to us on campus, the team was able to create all the components needed to build a fully functioning and successful board for Rob that met all of our requirements.

After testing the device, the team discovered that they met all of our target specifications, except one – weight.  The ideal value for weight was 15lbs and the marginal value was 20lbs, however, the board weighed 21.5lbs with all of the components.  Although we did not meet our goal, we do not think this will affect Rob’s ability to use it in any way.  Their reasoning behind setting these values, in the beginning, was because the team wanted to ensure that Rob would be able to carry the board to wherever he wanted to go.

During testing, they discovered that Rob wheels the board around like a suitcase, so he does not mind the extra 1.5lbs.  Overall, the product was very successful and allowed Rob to meet the goals set at the beginning of the year for the board. While the product was successful, some future updates can be made to improve the board.  Research can be done on choosing stronger and more lightweight materials to manufacture the board from.  Overall, the project was a great opportunity to improve the quality of life for a wounded veteran.

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A group of students helps a man by building a walker