Samueli School Showcases Wheelchair Project at Homecoming Street Festival

HSSoE students work with Free Wheelchair Mission to make a difference


UC Irvine’s 2011 Homecoming celebration culminated as over 4,000 people watched UCI’s men’s basketball team defeat Long Beach State University inside the Bren Events Center. In the hours leading up to game time, fans, students and alumni took in the Homecoming Street Festival on Mesa Road. The street festival featured live entertainment, a children’s carnival and booths from all areas of the UC Irvine campus.  The Henry Samueli School of Engineering booth highlighted a project that harnesses student ingenuity to make a difference around the world.

The Samueli School’s booth at the street festival featured a pair of wheelchairs created for the Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM), an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for the impoverished disabled in developing nations. Both the original first generation chair (GEN_1) created by FWM Founder and President Don Schoendorfer, Ph.D., and the current second generation chair (GEN_2), were highlighted. FWM partnered with the Samueli School and enlisted the aid of students in UC Irvine’s Engineering Design in Industry course to improve the first generation chair’s design. Students Andrew Litton and Shaun Wilson, as well as research advisor John Garman, Ph.D., and executive director of FWM Stuart Nichols were on hand at the School’s booth to demonstrate and answer questions about the chairs during the festival. Marilyn Huynh, assistant director of development, organized the setup of the Samueli School’s booth.

For more information on the Free Wheelchair Mission visit

Photo:  Chancellor Michael V. Drake, M.D., tests one of the chairs as Stuart Nichols looks on.

Erik Wirtanen, Engineering Communications

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