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Engineering Students to Present Senior Design Projects April 29

As their senior projects, two teams of engineering students at The University of Toledo designed indoor and outdoor walkers for a 6-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder who weighs 22 pounds.

The graduating seniors used their problem-solving skills to help Bethany Rasmusson from Wood County live as independent a life as possible.

They’ll be presenting their final prototypes alongside more than 60 other team projects as part of the College of Engineering’s Senior Design Expo from noon to 3 p.m. Friday April 29, on the first floor of Nitschke Hall.

“Just from our first meeting with Bethany and her parents, we were intrigued and interested knowing that we could actually present a physical object to give her more freedom out in the world,” said Alexander Enders, a senior who graduates May 7 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. “It’s a great thing to be a part of and makes me excited for the future.”

More than 200 students worked with local businesses, industries and federal agencies to help solve technical and business challenges, with projects ranging from a smart mailbox and a weapon detection system to a WiFi hacking system and a vibrating shoe insole that relieves foot pain.

Seniors will present their final prototypes, provide hands-on demonstrations and answer questions about their experiences at the expo.

Born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, Bethany Rasmusson of Pemberville wants to play outside with her big brother and big sister.

“Even though she is small, she’s so determined,” said Kelly Rasmusson, Bethany’s mother. “Because of Bethany’s size, it has been really difficult for us to find a walker that is safe for her. A lot of what’s out there is too heavy for her to move on her own just because of her low muscle tone and her small size. We carry her and she can crawl, but outside that’s a little bit difficult.”

Kelly and her husband Kurt Rasmusson connected with a UToledo alumnus, who connected them with faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who put together two teams of students to use their creativity and ingenuity to help give Bethany the mobility and freedom she craves.

On Thursday, April 21, the teams had their final meeting with Bethany’s family outside Nitschke Hall to test the prototypes and learn what adjustments needed to be made before the Senior Design Expo.

“It’s really exciting and makes her really happy, that’s for sure,” Enders said. “It’s great to see how well it works for the final test run, being able to have time to make alterations in the next week before we need to present our final project.”

“This has been a huge blessing,” Kelly Rasmusson said. “We had ideas, but the students were able to listen to what the problems were and fix them. We are so thrilled they were willing to take this on and make a walker that is light enough that she’s able to move around in and give her that freedom because that’s really what she wants. She wants to keep up with what everyone else is doing. It has been really humbling and heartwarming to see that these students were so eager to help her. We never, ever expected anything like this.”

Visit the College of Engineering website for information about all of the teams, projects and sponsors.

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