Students’ has Created an Innovative Weight Machine for Making Work-out more Accessible to People using Wheelchairs

Most gym equipment isn’t that accessible for people with disabilities. Steve Ferreira knows this all too well. Born with cerebral palsy, a condition that makes it hard for him to move and speak, he is a fitness fanatic and winner of multiple para-athletics awards. He gets around in a high-tech motorized wheelchair.

Ferreira has a powerful upper body and likes to work out, but the barriers to doing so at the gym can be nearly insurmountable. He doesn’t let that stop him, and he doesn’t want it to stop others, either. An advocate for people with disabilities who has 50,000 followers on TikTok, he runs a nonprofit, Beyond Disabilities, that provides support to those who want to overcome any disability-related limitations they might face.

And now, in partnership with UC Santa Barbara, he’s working on a weight machine that will be accessible to everyone. Five senior undergraduate students in the Mechanical Engineering Department — Joseph Byun, Janna Crocker, Cannon Crow, James Freda and Carlos Rivera — teamed with Ferreira to adapt a standard pulley-and-cable weight machine to be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. The innovative capstone project will be presented along with 25 others at the 2023 Engineering Capstone Expo, to be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 9, at Campbell Hall on the UCSB campus.

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