The Quality of Life Plus Student Association is creating prosthesis and other medical devices for people with physical disabilities in the local community. Right now, they are working to help someone compete in an international biotechnology competition.

Quality of Life Plus, or QL+, was originally created in 2006 by Cal Poly alum Jon Monett as a program to help wounded veterans through interdisciplinary senior projects.

The program has since transformed into a student organization that creates medical devices for their ‘challengers’ free-of-charge, as a result of school funding and corporate sponsorships.

Participants are called challengers because they “realize people continue to fight to overcome their physical challenges,” according to the Quality of Life Plus’ website.

One specific challenger, Tamar De Leon, is the center of their Cybathlon project. De Leon, a local student at Cuesta College, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. The goal is to make an exoskeleton that will help De Leon walk in order to compete in the Cybathlon competition — an international biotechnology competition set to take place in 2024. 

Video by Kiersten Stevens

About 40-50 members of QL+ participating in the project are broken up into teams in order to efficiently create the exoskeleton. The main teams include the mechanical design and controls teams. The mechanical design team works to create the harder materials of the project, such as the frame, joints, positioning and how a person is strapped into the exoskeleton. The controls team focuses on the electrical and computer-oriented side of the project.

“We’re trying to figure out how the person is walking, how they’re intending to walk and how we’re going to make them do that,” controls team lead and mechanical engineering senior Andrew Myers said.

Although participants of the project now will be gone by the time the Cybathlon competition comes around, members said they hope anyone who shares the same passion as them will help to finish what they started. 

“It’s an excellent club to get involved with engineering applications, no matter your age or experience, and we’re developing really cool technologies in the biomedical and health care industries that really make a difference in people’s lives,” mechanical engineering senior Ryan Forsberg said.

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