Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

James Widmann


The Adaptive Paddling Program at California Polytechnic State University has sponsored the construction of an adaptive kayak seat, the Tide Rider 360, to provide paddlers with disabilities sufficient trunk support while out on the water. In particular, this design focused on providing the least restrictive environment for all users while still providing sufficient lateral, neck, back, and hip support. This seat is intended for use in the quarterly Adaptive Paddling Program to allow people with disabilities to experience the joys of kayaking in the most comfortable and supportive environment possible.

The following report details the background research, design development, manufacturing, and testing processes that went into designing this seat. It provides in-depth breakdowns on aspects such as the concept generation and material selection methods in order to prove that this kayak seat meets the requirements of the Adaptive Paddling Program. In particular, this seat was designed for use in marine environments with maximum levels of adjustability, support, and comfort. It was designed to fit to all different types of people in terms of weight, disability, and paddling ability.

This kayak seat was manufactured out of aluminum tubing and joints, high density polyethylene sheets, and polyethylene foam. In addition to these materials, we added pre-manufactured wheelchair support components for the lateral supports, headrest, hip supports, and seat base. The total cost for the manufacturing of this prototype came out to be approximately $2100 and the final weight was just around 30 pounds.

We conducted multiple levels of testing on the kayak seat, including a load test and in-pool assessment. Our load testing proved that the aluminum seat frame experiences minimal deflection and bending when subjected to a constant weight for an extended period of time. The in-pool testing verified that the seat is able to support a paddler while still allowing them a wide range of motion, if so desired. The prototype as is does have a few shortcomings, such as some hard to reach adjustment bolts, but the Adaptive Paddling Program still feels confident in the ability of this seat and the fulfillment of the preset requirements. We believe that with a few slight modifications to the seat back angle and some additional reach of the supports, this product would be able to change the lives of the participants in the Adaptive Paddling Program.