Broadneck students win with handicap aid design

January 18, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

In the end, everything ran smoothly.

A few peanuts flew, but certainly not enough to keep a group of Broadneck High School students from taking first place in the Maryland National Engineering Design Challenge at the Johns Hopkins University.

The students: Mike Mayo, 18; Mike Belenky, Michelle Saini and Mike Zingraf, all 17; and John Burgess, Brian Kay and Tim Kelly, all 16.

The challenge: create a device that enables handicapped people who have little or no use of their hands to open a variety of containers.

The solution: The Accomplice.

The Broadneck students began working on their device in September. On Friday, they showed four judges and their competitors from Poly, Beth Tfiloh and Wooton High School what they had been working on.

Broadneck's device consisted of lightweight rubber and metal tubes that slip over the wrist and forearm. Students said they created the additional support for the wrist area after consulting handicapped individuals at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore, who explained that people who have lost the use of their hands often have weakened wrists as well.

Next, students created a platform device made of lightweight plastic with a clamp attached, to hold containers in place, and a bar to hold down and cut open items such as potato chip bags.

During a number of trials, Broadneck students had to deal with such mishaps as squirting soda bottles. Still, they were confident.

"We're going to win," said Mike Belenky. "It's simple to use. Everything opens. Everything works. I can't see how we can lose. We're there."

The students had 10 minutes to give their presentation, have one of the judges use The Accomplice, and provide a plan for the product's future.

A few peanuts were flung when a jar was opened, but that was about all that went wrong.

Possibly the only tense time came while they waited for the other three schools to present.

But as each school presented its device, Broadneck students became even more confident.

"We're there," Mike predicted.

Wooton High took second place, Beth Tfiloh third and Poly fourth.

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