Farmington robotics team builds joystick-driven wheelchair for toddler
FARMINGTON — The highlight of this year's competition season was engineered when the team brought joy and goodwill to a local toddler and Farmington family.
The FHS Rogue Robotics team designed a wheelchair for 2-year-old Cillian Jackson, son of Tyler and Krissy Jackson, of Farmington.
This past December, the team brought joy to this family and freedom to Cillian, who can now navigate his way around in a small wheelchair with the style of a childlike Power Wheels car.
Cillian's father, a Farmington High School graduate, emailed the school requesting if the team would be interested in building a small chair to help his son get around.
Cillian was born with a genetic condition that limits his mobility.
"I just think it was hard to bring in the words because we were all in tears and it was like the ultimate Christmas gift," said Rogue Robotics member Cami Schachtele, a junior at FHS.
The wheelchair was constructed by modifying a Power Wheels car and made possible by a plan developed for robotics teams by a university. An actual small wheelchair would have cost the family nearly $20,000, so this was a more affordable option.
"It was great to change a little kid's life and give him mobility," said Rogue Robotics head coach Spencer Elvebak.
The team worked to engineer the chair by wiring and programming the chair with a single fully-positioned joystick.
"They had to gut the electronics and reprogram it and put in its own board and electrical components to program a single, multi-directional joystick, and since he was smaller, we had to modify his seat and put in a harness. We used a bicycle seat for a child," Elvebak said.
"They (the parents) said you could see a new sparkle in his eyes when he goes around and that is just so amazing, especially since he cannot get around himself," Schachtele said. "To be able to give him the opportunity of any mobility, especially from high school students, I think that is so cool and really special."
The students were able to see Cillian return this week and ride his new car with ease.
"To give this one little boy the best present for Christmas was just the best feeling ever and to see Cillian not knowing what to do with it in the beginning ... it was great to see what he can actually do with it now," Rogue Robotics member Jeisabella Loza said.