Engineering freshmen designing mobility cart for ‘man’s best friend’

Engineering freshmen designing mobility cart for ‘man’s best friend’
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Boots is a 12-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 College of Engineering’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, Harkins said. “In a semester when the students have mostly been sitting in Zoom meetings, they were outside together laughing and doing something meaningful.”

To build a mobility cart for Boots, the FLC students divided into three teams. Each team will develop a cart design and meet with Russell to refine or combine plans as needed to achieve the best solution. The students will build the final product using 3-D printers in the FLC’s Creativity Laboratory.

The Russell family has 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,” 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.”