Students Modify Wheelchair Lift for Local Woman

Published 05.10.2006

Welding & Metal Fabrication
Student News

From left, Derek S. Oberlin, Mifflinburg%3B Joshua D. Simpson, Glen Rock%3B Ryan P. Procious, New Bethlehem%3B Randy S. Gery, New Albany%3B Theodore J. Lechene, Patton%3B Jacob A. Mattioli, Tunkhannock%3B Michael J. Nau, instructor of welding%3B Christopher A. Glover, Friendship, N.Y.%3B Robert A. Schoonover, Towanda%3B Donna Persing, whose wheelchair lift was modified by the students%3B and Jeffrey W. Garraux, Allison Park.A group of students enrolled in the Welding Design course at Pennsylvania College of Technology volunteered to help with a project that saved a Williamsport woman the thousands of dollars she would have had to pay for a new wheelchair lift.

When Donna Persing bought a new wheelchair, it did not fit on her van's lift. She contacted Donald O. Praster, assistant dean of industrial and engineering technologies, and the college's welding department, which endeavored to make the lift wider to accommodate the chair.

"Don Praster and I came up with a preliminary design and gave it to the students," said Michael J. Nau, instructor of welding. "They did all the cutting, welding and finishing of the design."

The students cut the lift's platform in half to add a 3-inch extension onto its center, allowing Persing's new chair to fit correctly. Both Persing and her husband, Terry, have cerebral palsy.

"It was an easy job to do to help somebody and save them in the long run," said welding technology student Theodore J. Lechene, of Patton, adding that it also offered the students an opportunity "to actually put our education to hands-on experience."

Students who helped with the project are: Jeffrey W. Garraux, Allison Park, welding and fabrication engineering technology; Christopher A. Glover, Friendship, N.Y., welding technology; Randy S. Gery, New Albany, welding and fabrication engineering technology; Lechene; Jacob A. Mattioli, Tunkhannock, welding technology; Derek S. Oberlin, Mifflinburg, welding technology; Ryan P. Procious, New Bethlehem, welding technology; Robert A. Schoonover, Towanda, welding; and Joshua D. Simpson, Glen Rock, welding technology.

Being able to save Persing a hefty replacement cost was an attractive reason to volunteer extra effort, Mattioli said.

"It was just a few modifications," he said. "It wasn't even a big deal for us, but I'm sure it was helpful."

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies, call (570) 327-4520, or sende-mail.