Brody Roberson and Joshua Jantzi are both seniors at Newton High School, and both athletes. Roberson is a wrestler, while Jantzi a soccer player. During both of their high school careers, they suffered injuries that required them to be on crutches for a spell.
Both had some of the same problems physically while on those crutches.
"I have been on crutches a lot," Jantzi said. "There was a lot of irritation with my armpits. I wanted to get rid of that."
"I hated them," Roberson added. "My arms would get tired and I would get irritation under my armpit. We wanted to get rid of this problem."
Traditional crutches have a support piece that rubs the arm pit. The crutches the two were working on this week, made from PCV pipe and plastics, make use of a different system. The bulk of a person's weight is now supported by the forearms.
And they discovered they were not alone.
"We had to justify this, that this was a problem and not just us using crutches wrong," Jantzi said. "We had to see if there were other people that had the same problems we were."
So when asked to reengineer an everyday object in Brian Rickard's Engineering Design and Development class at Brooks Trade Center, Roberson and Jantzi knew just what they wanted to take on — making the common crutch better.
Their project is one of four getting finished up by the class. One team is redesigning a walker — trying to make it less stressful for parts of the back and neck. Another team is reworking a bicycle lock — integrating the security with a bike rack. The fourth group is doing some technical testing, seeing the effects of heat on fuel and trying to make car engines run on less gas.
"This is not like a normal classroom," Jantzi said. "Most classrooms you sit down and the teacher lectures for an hour. You go to the next class, and that class. Here, you do something and are creating something that came out of you and your partner's mind. ... You can see the progress we have made from day one."
"This is a privilege," Roberson added.
All of those projects will be part of a project showcase from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 3 inside the main entrance of Newton High School, 1200 Boyd.
Roberson and Jantzi created a design, then started creating a prototype and building their new creation using the tools available at Brooks Trade Center. That meant time in front of a computer screen, and not only to create an overall design. They had to program a 3-D printer to carve parts out of plastics.
"Some parts take a whole day, others hours. It depends on how complex it is," Roberson said.
Neither has thought about what the project could mean for after high school, but both said they are proud of what they have created in the class.