Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

James Widmann


The scope of this project included designing and fabricating an adaptive aquatic device for Joseph, a 20 year old student in the Special Education Program at San Luis Obispo High School with a subset of cerebral palsy known as spastic quadriplegia. The project was presented at the beginning of the Fall 2013 quarter to the mechanical engineering students at Cal Poly with the aspiration that a team of engineers would construct a device that would allow Joseph, his friends and family to compete in their first triathlon on July 27, 2014. The project was humbly accepted by mechanical engineering students Lilly Hoff and Paul Sands, as well as kinesiology student Andrea Voigt.

The team designed a device for Joseph that emphasizes the least restrictive environment by orienting him in a prone position that immerses the majority of his body in the water, yet provides the necessary features to satisfy all safety concerns. A PVC frame is incorporated to provide stability in the water, attached to which are floats that provide buoyancy as well as a mesh material body support for him to lay on. Buoyancy and hydrodynamics are factored into the design by attaching a fiberglassed bow that extends forward from the front of the frame. Joseph will be pulled through the water by a swimmer wearing a swimming belt attached to the device.

In conclusion, all of the customer requirements were satisfied by the design, and all testing performed validated the performance of the device. This report details the project specifications, design decisions, background research on both Joseph’s disability as well as similar existing products, the manufacturing process used to construct it, a full detailed description of the final design, and the testing procedures performed to ensure that the device is fully functional and safe.