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Scott Openshaw, Mechanical Engineering, (515) 294-4968
Jess Comer, Mechanical Engineering, (515) 294-3097
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917

Kia Jordan prepares for take-off
Kia Jordan prepares for take-off, while her father Andy looks on and engineering student Ryan Welter makes a few adjustments.

Kia Jordan takes a spin on new
tricycle Kia tries out her new tricycle.

AMES, Iowa -- Kia Jordan of Ellsworth recently got a new tricycle specially designed for her by ISU engineering students. The tricycle will help the 8-year-old, who has limited use of her limbs, gain mobility, become more independent and ride bikes with her big brother Tyler.

Kia suffers the physical effects of meningitis, which she contracted as an infant. Standard tricycles and even those developed for people with physical disabilities lacked features she needed in a tricycle.

As part of a class project, the ISU student team basically merged two bicycles into the tricycle for Kia.

The tricycle is one of 18 student-designed devices created in the engineering design class led by Scott Openshaw and Jess Comer. The class focus is on devices to assist those with physical disabilities.

"This is basically a new design for a tricycle," Openshaw said. "Kia needed a recumbent tricycle, so she wouldn't be sitting so high. The team basically took two bicycles, cut them in half and welded the two back pieces together and used one front piece to make it into a tricycle."

The new tricycle allows Kia to pedal more easily than her old bike. The drive sprockets gear the system down so that it is not so hard to pedal the bike, Openshaw explained. The seat is adjustable so she can get optimal leverage with her feet. The pedals are modified to strap her feet in with Velcro.

The student team met with Kia twice during the project -- once to assess her physical limitations and a second time to videotape her riding a tricycle designed for children with physical disabilities.

"The video tape showed what that tricycle did and didn't do for Kia," Openshaw said.

Openshaw added that other projects developed by the class include:
  • A modified "Big Wheel" designed for a child who has a prosthetic leg and who had difficulties riding a standard version of the plastic tricycle.
  • An audio stimulation board designed to allow children to enjoy the learning experience of audio stimulation using sounds, music, etc. The device integrates switches and other control devices they will use throughout their lives.
  • An exercise unit developed for a 3-year old girl with limited mobility and vision. The design will allow her to sit at a worktable and control the motion to orient herself for her activities and interaction with others.


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Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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