Dennis Waldron and the solar-powered wheelchair he and other UVA students created
What started as a class
project turned into an award-winning invention for a group of University of Virginia
students. The engineering students created a solar-powered wheelchair.
The group of students
spent many grueling nights working on the invention all in hopes to finish it
in 90 days. After three months, the wheelchair is up and running, thanks to a
lot of hard work and the sun.
Alper Sirvan's life just
got a little bit easier. He has cerebral palsy and lives in Turkey. He has
never met the students who built the solar-powered wheelchair but he's
benefiting from the group's success firsthand.
He pitched the idea for
the sun-powered wheelchair from Turkey, where he entered it into the "Change
My Life in One Minute" contest for World Cerebral Palsy Day. The
engineering students thought the idea was brilliant and took on the challenge -
and it was quite a challenge.
"It got to the point
where we would be sitting there at midnight and we'd go, ‘you know, this just
isn't working' and tear the whole thing down and start over," said Dennis
Waldron, who worked on the wheelchair.
Waldron says the group had
to tear down the wheelchair four times before they finally got it right. Group
members say they look forward to sending the finished project off to Turkey so
Sirvan can use it.
Sirvan currently uses a
wheelchair that he has had for years and told the students he has a hard time
getting it up and down hills.
"In his entry he
wrote that in a lot of places there they don't always have access to always-on
power, so if they need to get around it's a huge mobility issue for those
people over there that don't have power all the time," Waldron said.
Steven Bennett, with United Cerebral Palsy,
says the students' invention is about more than just science.
"It's really about
humanity, it's really about making the world an easier and better place," Bennett
The students were granted $20,000
for the invention. They say they are using part of the money to ship the wheelchair
off to Turkey and are giving the rest back to United Cerebral Palsy.
Sign Up for Email Alerts
Sign up to receive NBC29 news and weather updates in your inbox daily.