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Engineering Students Making a Difference

Central Connecticut State University students have partnered with a nonprofit agency to benefit the disadvantaged and disabled. Working with Chariots of Hope, a nonprofit located in Bloomfield, students from Michele Dischino’s Introduction to Engineering course have refurbished wheelchairs that are being donated to individuals who have no means of obtaining them. Students used their problem-solving skills to repair the wheelchairs, which were no longer being used and were in disrepair. “Each wheelchair was different,” said Dischino. “The students had to figure out what needed to be done to make each chair functional. Some chairs had missing parts, and all of them needed cleaning and general refurbishment. It was a problem-solving project in a socially meaningful and hands-on way.” Using their engineering skills, along with some parts from other unused wheelchairs, the students successfully completed the challenge and presented their projects to Paul Bobbitt, a Chariots of Hope board member, who then transported the refurbished chairs back to the Bloomfield facility for distribution. “I've always been one to help out people in need, and this is such a good cause,” said CCSU student Michaela Melillo, who participated in the project. “Life is so hard for people without mobility, and it’s satisfying knowing how much of a difference these wheelchairs will make for them.” Chariots of Hope estimates that there are 18 million bedridden people worldwide. Wheelchairs are a luxury in some poor countries, yet countless sit idle in the U.S. “Our mission is to provide mobility to disadvantaged persons, so they can have a better quality of life and participate in community activities and services,” Bobbitt said. “Our thanks to these CCSU students for their support. “We have been in this recycling activity for 12 years,” he added, “knowing that each chair has two lives - the person it served and the one it goes to help.”

Funded by Connecticut (July 2013)