Students Team With GM to Develop Racing Handcycles for Wounded Vets

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Students Team With GM to Develop Racing Handcycles for Wounded Vets

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Michigan Tech senior engineering student James Cook in the shop with the Tomahawk racing handcycle he helped build in a program sponsored by General Motors. Photo: Sara Bird/Michigan Tech University

The Keweenaw Kruiser. Photo: Michigan Technical University

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 11:30am

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Gearheads at Michigan Tech and General Motors have developed three-wheelers specifically designed for wounded veterans who compete in marathons and other endurance events.

The three-wheeled handcycles were designed by students at the university’s medical engineering program and engineers from Chevrolet. They’ll be used by the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans in races nationwide.

GM’s Military Discount Program has long supported the Freedom team, but not all were pleased with the machines on the market. Students at Michigan Tech felt they could do better and set out, with GM’s help, to design handcycles that are more durable and comfortable.“This is the most rewarding assignment I’ve ever worked on,” Brett Jenkins, a Michigan Tech senior who led one of the five student teams tasked with building the bikes, said in a statement.

Five teams set to work on the project, designing bikes that riders propel with their arms. The teams combined their best ideas into two prototypes, the Tomahawk and Keweenaw Kruiser. They feature durable steel alloy frames for strength and restraints that enhance the safety and comfort of the rider. The handcycles also were designed for easier transporting — a pivoting attachment connects the frame to the fork, allowing the front wheel to fold into the seat, making it easier to move and less likely to be damaged in transit.

General Motors said it will build 10 handcycles for the Freedom team, which was founded in 2004 to help returning veterans train for and compete in races nationwide.

“I loved working with the students and seeing their energy and passion,” GM engineer Alexa Ellswood said Ellswood. “This isn’t their last class. It’s their first job.”

Keywords: Environment | General Motors | Social Impact & Volunteering | csr | handcycles | sustainability | wounded vets

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