UWF puts ArgoTots Program in motion, helping children with disabilities
A new program at the University of West Florida helps young children with physical disabilities move around independently. “ArgoTots” provides modified vehicles to young children who experience limited mobility. Students in UWF’s Enterprise program recently completed the first modified vehicle since the program’s inception.
“Seeing the positive impact of the ‘Go Baby Go’ program, a national program for children with limited mobility, inspired me to start our own program at UWF,” said Dr. Brad Regez, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “I realized there was great need and opportunity for a program of this kind in the area.”
The first vehicle of its kind in the program, a John Deere tractor, was modified and outfitted for 4-year-old Jack Carroll, who was born prematurely and has a form of cerebral palsy. For Jack, a three-point harness was added to the tractor since he has trouble sitting upright unassisted and the steering wheel was adjusted for easier one-arm operation. The vehicle comes with a remote control so others can control its movement when necessary.
“This is going to be great because he has balance issues and he loves to explore and be outside,” said Danielle Carroll, Jack’s mother.
Mechanical engineering majors Fred Anderson, Selena Beasley, Isaac Brunet, Phillip Mitchell, Cody Sewell and Shane Smith worked on the project. The design, materials testing and calculations took months of preparations, while the implementation of the design and planned modifications took less than a week. During the fall semester, students documented in detail each step of the build and modification process. They conducted rigorous testing and inspection after each modification and were required to give multiple presentations on their progress or any issues during the build.
“Having the opportunity to apply the engineering knowledge that I’m learning for my degree in a way that can impact a child’s life for the better is very encouraging,” Brunet said. “It has reminded me that engineering is not all about steel beams and bridges, but about making an impact on people’s lives.”
UWF’s Enterprise Program, housed in UWF’s Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, is a series of required courses that create a design/build experience for Mechanical Engineering students.
For more information about UWF’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, visit uwf.edu/me.