Carnegie Mellon University
November 19, 2015

Innovation Palooza: Impact-A-Thon

Innovation Palooza: Impact-A-Thon In its second year, the College of Engineering hosted Innovation Palooza, an event to celebrate and showcase innovation at Carnegie Mellon. The event featured lightning talks from leading industry experts; demonstrations of emerging innovations from a variety of companies, CMU faculty and students; an Impact-a-Thon where student teams develop novel solutions to a social challenge: limited playground access for children with mental and physical disabilities.

Wanting to create playground equipment that would allow for independent play, CEE MS students Avani Goval, Ahana Mukherjee, Minkyung Kang, and Thiago Rodrigues, along with ESTP Master’s student Rushil Desai, designed a manual, miniature roller coaster for children with leg paralysis.

The team observed that existing equipment requires a caregiver to help the child by propelling a swing or merry-go-round or by moving the child’s wheelchair from a starting point to an ending point.  Their submitted roller coaster design—the Slide ‘n Go—allows kids to use their upper bodies to pull a chair up rollerslide inclines and then ride the slope down the other side. The coaster can be formatted in several different layouts, all of which end at the coaster’s starting point, so the children do not need to rely on someone else to enjoy the playground. Costs to implement the design are competitive with market prices and with roller coasters being a universally enjoyed ride for all kids, making it a practical addition to playgrounds everywhere.