Robotics students build automated locker for special-needs peer

A student with muscular dystrophy could not open his own school locker, so two robotics students stepped up to build an automated opener to give him a hand.

Nick Torrance and locker
Student Nick Torrance operates his robotic locker door. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Pinckney Community High School in Pinckney, Mich., is the site of a robotics experiment gone very, very right. Junior Nick Torrance has muscular dystrophy. He uses a wheelchair to get around, but the muscle disease makes it difficult to handle simple activities, like opening up his locker.

The high school already has a top-notch robotics class. Seniors Micah Stuhldreher and Wyatt Smrcka won the 2012 SkillsUSA national robotics competition, so they were a natural choice to tackle the locker door problem with a robotics solution.

The robotics project has taken the better part of the school year to design, build, test, and refine.

The initial use of a key fob proved to be too difficult to activate, so now the automated locker door opener is triggered by a wave of Torrance's hand over a sensor. Another wave closes the door.

Torrance has a student who helps him carry his books and supplies, but the locker door is now a task he can accomplish on his own.

The door opener may soon be available to other special-needs students. Stuhldreher and Smrcka won a $1,500 grant from the Society of American Military Engineers to create more of the devices.

(Via Livingston Daily)

 

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