Local engineering students design a portable detachable wheelchair motor

by Jeremy Baker / KENS 5

A group of students at San Antonio College have come together to form a project that will make it much easier for people in manual wheelchairs to get around.

The project is a portable, detachable motor for a wheelchair, and it is meant for the person in a manual wheelchair to have the same ability as a person in an electrical wheelchair," says Lindsay Swaim, a biochemistry major at the college.

Electric wheelchairs cost up to four or five times as much as a manual one, and they're much heavier. 

John Quarles, a computer science professor at UTSA worked with the students to design the chair. 

"I have multiple sclerosis, and when it gets really really hot that exacerbates all of my symptoms.  I walk worse so especially getting this in the summer would be really really helpful because I will probably need it a lot more," he said

The chair will use a rubber pulley to turn the manual wheel, and the entire unit will be portable.  Safety was a big consideration for the students, who plan to build a protective covering so the motor won't overheat, and the pulley won't snag on any clothing, hair, or skin.

But they can't complete the project without help.  You can donate to the project through their gofundme page here.