This story is from the start of the 2000-01 season. In the fall I sat at lunch with a Special Education teacher at our school. As usual I was talking about Dean Kamen FIRST and Dean's latest invention, the I-BOT. The teacher mentioned to me that he had a "Stand-up-chair" that the school had just received as a donation for a student here who has Cerebral Palsy. We talked about how the chair allows the girl to stand up and that she uses it for therapy to build muscle strength in her body and legs. He was excited to show the chair to me. When I saw it I thought we could do more to help our student.
Our 2000 robot was reliable but average in competition. I talked to the students about a crazy plan. What if we took the drive system from that robot and used it to make her chair move? The students were excited! We talked to the parents of our new friend Nicole and everyone was ready to give the idea a try. We changed the program in the robot so the joy stick would not be so sensitive then we took the chair and our old machine to the metals shop for the conversion.
We had two engineers with us and Nicole and her family at the shop. Our old robot was a box shape machine. We made 4 cuts to the frame and set it next to the chair. I get chills as I remember this, the drive fit perfect to the chair, just like we had made them for each other! You could have heard pin drop and then excitement as we all realized what we were seeing!
That next week Nicole walked the halls of Zeeland High School for the first time!
At the start of this year we had to do a re-tread for the chair because we hear and see Nicole about once a week going through the halls.
I have attached a picture of the chair for you. The student on the chair graduated last year.