Project Title: Unpowered Exoskeleton

Bristol FamilyTeam 16055 Members:
Martin Galaz, biomedical engineering
Jason Keatseangsilp, biomedical engineering (team lead)
Amanda Koiki, biomedical engineering
Joshua Owl, biomedical engineering
Thomas Valenzuela, biomedical engineering
Cole Waldren, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: The Bristol Family

Family on a Mission Partners with Big-Hearted Students

Jeffrey Bristol (center) and his mother Herma with Engineering Design Team 16055Herma Bristol wasn’t sure what to expect in September 2016 when she joined big-name companies like Caterpillar, Honeywell, Microsoft and Raytheon to recruit students during the Engineering Design Program Open House. She came away from the experience quite impressed with the tall stack of resumes from students eager to work on an unpowered exoskeleton for her son Jeffrey.

Still, the Bristols, whose family and friends contributed funds to sponsor the project, were seeking qualities that wouldn’t necessarily show up on resumes.

“We were looking very specifically for people who had heart,” said Herma, adding that her family also has found plenty of know-how in the six students handpicked for team “Lightning Legs.”

Jeffrey, a UA junior studying accounting, suffered two spontaneous brain bleeds when he was a toddler. He recovered fully from the first and has practiced daily for 18 years to regain skills lost after the second.

The team is replacing a rudimentary device Jeffrey has used for physical therapy with a custom apparatus that will enable him – and possibly others who have cerebral palsy – to maintain an upright position while exercising the muscles needed to walk.

Team members have traveled to Phoenix to meet with collaborators at Barrow Neurological Institute and study a powered body suit, or exoskeleton, used to treat patients with similar conditions. They “got to ask a million questions,” said Herma, a UA College of Education alumna.

They are performing much like meticulous tailors, measuring and re-measuring Jeffrey to accomplish a truly custom fit for the wearable exoskeleton that will support the high-achieving student to keep powering through to a career in certified public accounting.