It’s Tuesday night in Engineering (building 192), and the Quality of Life Plus Student Association (QL+) is ready to welcome in their plus-sized crowd of members. Complimentary California Rolls are served as students sit down in their sixteen different design groups.
The national organization of QL+, created by Cal Poly alum Jon Monett in 2008, prides itself on designing medical equipment that helps injured veterans and service members live a more comfortable life. On Cal Poly’s campus, the QL+ team extends their helping hands even further by connecting with the community of San Luis Obispo.
According to Lance Lunker, Western Program Manager of the national QL+ organization, Cal Poly’s chapter is “by far the largest, most established, most active, and successful QL+ club nationwide.” The first college to start a QL+ student club in 2009, Cal Poly’s chapter soon evolved into a Student Association, making them eligible to receive funding from the university as an Instructionally Related Activity (IRA).
Industrial Engineering senior Harry Koos serves as president of the club. He explained upcoming events that QL+ members can get involved in. He is finishing up applications for six different formal design projects that students will work on throughout the year.
One project, “Hands for Julian,” is focused on creating prosthetic hands for a local nine-year-old boy who lost parts of nine of his fingers in a car accident last April. Another project gives wounded veterans prosthetic legs specifically designed for surfing.
There is always something to work on in the QL+ laboratory and every member can participate in quarterly design projects for a selected topic. This quarter, the team is looking at different ways to design wheelchairs to allow wounded veterans to play paintball. The sixteen teams collaborate with each other throughout the quarter, and one or two will be chosen to receive funding to make their designs a reality.
The social experience from working together with like-minded people on projects can be very rewarding, according to mechanical engineering junior Craig Icban, who serves as Senior Vice President of QL+.
“My first year I really regretted not getting too involved,” Icban said. “Now, I truly enjoy coming here every day. It becomes a part of your life and managing your time improves based on how much you wanna come back to this club.”
The QL+ organization is present on ten different college campuses nationwide and in addition to managing the Cal Poly chapter, Harry Koos helps to develop clubs on other campuses.
“I’m helping the one at UC San Diego and I’m also helping them start one at San Diego State,” Koos said in an interview. “I talk to the presidents there every once in a while, help them find challengers that they can work with.”
Harry Koos agreed that while there is a lot of time management and planning involved with running the QL+ Student Association, it is nothing he cannot handle — and he does it all without any caffeine.