Plainfield students create wheelchair part for man with multiple sclerosis

Engineering students at Plainfield Central High School went above and beyond to help one in their community.

The class has developed a wheelchair part for a man with multiple sclerosis.

A group of high schoolers looking for a good grade also got a lesson in community service recently.

"I want to thank them, because they did. It was unexpected, believe me," said Todd Scheihing.

Scheihing’s multiple sclerosis has progressed over the years. He's now in a motorized wheelchair, which helps him with independence. The only problem is one piece needed to be customized.


"It was very flimsy, and I have tremors and it would knock off easily," Scheihing said.

He has a relative who works at Plainfield Central and that connection is how teacher Rob McGahey got involved.

"I think this is an opportunity where students went even above and beyond what they normally do," said McGahey.

Last spring, Engineering and 3D Printing students were tasked with designing a new ergonomic knob to help control the wheelchair.

McGahey threw this project at the students, and about 15 decided to give it a try and their porotypes only took about three weeks.

They created a few dozen versions, but the winning one was the product of now senior Keegan Truesdale.

"I tried different ways, different like lengths and widths. The first design that I did was a little bit narrower," Truesdale said.

The students took notes about Scheihing’s size and dexterity, and they examined and reexamined the current equipment. They may not have agreed on design, but they agreed on the lesson that was learned.

"It was nice being able to make something to help someone out," said sophomore Jeremy Korallus.

"That fact that it helps someone I don't know. It just makes you feel good," said senior Maxamillion Piekosz.

The kids made prototypes using 3D printers and sent them home to Scheihing.

"I had decided that I wanted to do kind of like a ‘T’ shape. I've thought about doing just flat and I'm like, well, we can try to make it a little more like ergonomic," said sophomore Sarah Lauss.

Scheihing tried them out and gave his opinion.

"Feedback was that it actually works better this way," Lauss said.

Most of these students now see themselves as future engineers. Some are even working on 3D printing projects at home.

"I'm working on a project for my dad's car. He has an old car that doesn't have cupholders or like a phone holder. So, I'm designing a couple, their phone holder thing, that I can like mount onto the dashboard," Truesdale said.

Lauss made a sticky note stencil.

"Outline everything, and then you've got a to-do list," she said.

McGahey says previous students have made cellphone amplifiers, and replacement parts, but this human connection is something he wants to replicate.

"That is something that we're going to absolutely do is to figure out more ways to go, you know, in the small Plainfield Central Community with them to build out from there and build on this," said McGahey.

Scheihing says he is overwhelmed with the kindness that these young adults sent his way.

"Like I said, you don't see it," Scheihing said while getting emotional. "You don't see that nowadays, you know?"