Four members of the Cal Poly engineering department recently partnered with AmpSurf and Quality Life Plus in creating a project to provide people with disabilities a way to get from the beach to the ocean. 

The four team members Arthur Zaayer, Marius Jatulis, Jose Covarrubias, and Griffin O’Malley have been working on this project since September 2019. The overall impact, the community and the hands-on work are what drew these students to this project. 

“I’ve been surfing for awhile, so having something I’m passionate about and sharing that with people and then creating a device for them to better enjoy that activity more is so cool to me,” Jatulis said. 

The product itself is a rolling sled with large air tires in the back, and smaller, denser wheels in the front. Loose and irregular sand piles can make it difficult for some of AmpSurf’s challengers to get from the beach to the ocean. These two styles of tires make the sand less of an obstacle while their density also assists in making sure the challenger does not float or sink while climbing on or off the sled in the water.

The prototype of the sled features tires that make the sand less of an obstacle while also helping ensure the challenger does not float or sink while climbing on or off the sled in the water. Quality of Life Plus | Courtesy

“Right now they have problems with the wheelchairs on the beach, a lot of the time they’ll have to carry the challengers across the beach due to low accessibility. So we’re just trying to streamline that process and make a more enjoyable experience overall,” Zaayer said. 

Optimizing the challengers experience has been the inspiration and reasoning behind this project. Currently, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to get a challenger from the beach to the ocean, according to the students. However, the students predict that their sled could cut that time down to one minute or even 30 seconds once the challenger is on the sled. 

In creating their prototype, the students found that aesthetics are almost as important as function in creating mobility devices. This urged the students to change their initial square design into a more rounded shape before they created their prototype. With the prototype, the students are testing several variables, including weight capacity, buoyancy, and anti-corrosiveness in the salt water. 

All of these factors helped the students come to their final design, which involved the decision to use stainless steel as their final material due to its good strength to weight ratio and aesthetic properties. The final sled will have a weight capacity of more than 200 pounds and can hold surfboards from 23 to 38 inches.

Zaayer, Jatulis, Covarrubias, and O’Malley will be presenting their final project at the end of May at the Engineering Project Expo. This expo is an annual event to celebrate the work in Cal Poly College of Engineering and features up to 200 individual and team projects from more than 60 organizations and clubs, according to Cal Poly.

Correction: A previous version of this article did not identify the sled in the photo as a prototype. The caption has been edited to reflect that the photo of the sled shows a prototype and is not the final product.

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