MADISON – Kody Habeck knows how important mobility is to farmers, including his father, who is not ready to give up farming despite health issues that make sailing and performing tasks outdoors risky .
The older Habaek suffered from Parkinson’s disease, with further complications that prevented him from getting around the farm at all. Habeck said his father sold his cows earlier because of these challenges, but at 59, wasn’t ready to give up farming entirely.
Thanks to Habeck, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Biosystems Engineering, and his students, devices designed and built in the classroom are helping people with disabilities stay active and productive in physically challenging situations.
One of the projects his students are currently working on is designing an add-on for a universal track chair designed to help people with disabilities get around rough terrain, wooded trails or around farms safely.
In the past, Habaek’s father was able to use specialized equipment to perform daily tasks. However, recent complications have prevented him from doing anything on the farm.
“When he came up with his latest challenge, I brought him the chair to use on the farm until he could have surgery to help him move again,” Harbeck said. “Without that chair, he wouldn’t be at all. active.”
Harbeck said the chair was designed for agricultural use, but is actually good for anyone who wants to move and work outdoors. He noted that while the chair could help people move around safely outdoors, it could be designed to do a specific job.
“Transferring from a wheelchair to another device like this can be a challenge,” he said. “Students set out to design a transit seat.”
A team of students developed several designs, then decided on the most practical, and then began building the transfer seat themselves, he said. Next, they began working on other attachments that could perform specific jobs on the chair, including a lightweight lift and tilt attachment that can be used to pick up objects weighing up to 100 pounds, including small hay bales.
Habeck’s students also designed a quick-attach system on the front, similar to those used on skid steer loaders, to secure tools such as snowplows, lawn mowers, or other tools for specific tasks.
Operator safety and simplicity were always at the forefront when the students designed the equipment. Once the attachments are designed, the students then work on simplifying the system and fine-tuning the design, Habeck said.
Andrea Klahn, Outreach Specialist at AgrAbility, said: “The more awareness we create, the better we can help farmers in the future. The students learned about the need for tools to help farmers with disabilities Let’s keep farming.”
AgrAbility is partnering with UW’s Department of Biosystems Engineering. AgrAbility is a partnership between Wisconsin Easter Seals and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Students will receive $250 towards their new design.
The Universal Utility Track Chair ST22 was donated by Action Manufacturing of Marshall, MN to the department that makes the Action Trackchair. Kuhn North America in Broadhead, Wisconsin also supports students by laser cutting parts for one of their senior design projects.