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Mechanical engineering students roll out prototype

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Jun-Min Teh, assistant project engineer for the Purdue University School of Mechanical Engineering senior design class, demonstrates the "assisted entertainment vehicle" prototype, which is designed to allow people in wheelchairs better access to amusement park rides. Chuck Flueck, left, who initially proposed the idea after serving an internship with a Walt Disney Co. subsidiary, operates a lift to show the wheelchair's lock-in stability. Twenty-five students in the class designed, built and tested the vehicle and a docking device interface during their eight-week summer class that is just ending. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires theme parks to make 20 percent of their rides handicap accessible. "Our goal was to create a method that allows the user to access rides by themselves with maximum dignity," said class instructor John Nolfi, manager of the university's Product Engineering and Realization Laboratory in the School of Mechanical Engineering. Companies have already expressed interest in the method's commercial possibilities, he said. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/nolfi.prototype.jpeg