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UWindsor engineering students and local manufacturers helping John McGivney Children’s Centre with wheelchair seating project for children with special needs

August 15, 2022

UWindsor Capstone Project

Windsor, ON – A team of University of Windsor engineering students has been working with the John McGivney Children’s Centre on their wheelchair seating manufacturing process. 

The project’s aim is to reduce the time to produce wheelchair seats so that children with special needs could receive their wheelchairs sooner, while maintaining their highly customized, high-quality seating product and reducing production costs. The custom seats are uniquely designed to meet the specific needs of each child, and cannot be just ‘taken off the shelf’.

“Our current approach was a mix of internal and external processes that could be costly and labour intensive at times, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated those challenges, introducing unpredictability in the cost and delivery of materials” said Gerry Demers, Seating Technologist at JMCC. “We knew there was a better way, but did not have the time to dedicate to finding a solution,” added Tracey Roberts, Seating Department Occupational Therapist.

The fourth year engineering students began the project in January under the leadership of Dr. Colin Novak, and concluded with a presentation during the Faculty of Engineering Design Demo Day July 29, 2022.

The new process has the potential to reduce production time from 6-8 months to 3-4 weeks and introduce innovative technologies with support from Harbour Technologies, Valiant TMS and other local partners.

“My teammates and I made several visits to the Centre. One time, we met a four-year-old girl who was being molded for a new wheelchair seat. At such a young age she had already undergone multiple surgeries and will most likely need more in the future. These custom molded seats make a huge difference for these children by providing optimal alignment and support while improving their wellbeing,” said engineering student Jasmine Bull.

“Our capstone project allowed us the unique opportunity to step outside of our textbooks and into the community to work with industrial partners to find the most efficient manufacturing method to mold and create the custom seats for this amazing local organization,” continued Bull. “Our team also received financial support from both WMG Technologies and Valiant TMS Capstone Endowment Funds to help us build and test the prototype wheelchair seats. My team and I would like to thank everyone involved.”

“On behalf of our staff, and all our children and families we’re extremely grateful to all the University of Windsor students, their professors, Harbour Technologies, Valiant TMS and a number of community leaders who are involved in this important project,” said Jessica Sartori, John McGivney Children’s Centre CEO.  “We will be a centre of excellence for this process and are excited to share this best practice with the other 21 Children’s Treatment Centres across the province.”

Read the UWindsor Daily News story.
Watch the CTV News story.


About the John McGivney Children’s Centre

The John McGivney Children’s Centre has been providing specialized rehabilitation and support services for almost 50 years to more than 3,000 children and youth each year with physical, neurological and developmental needs. 

Media Contact: 

Cathy Mombourquette, Community Affairs Manager 

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