Norwich partners with Quality of Life Plus to engineer solutions for injured veterans

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Norwich partners with Quality of Life Plus to engineer solutions for injured veterans

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 3:59am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Quality of Life Plus (QL+), a non-profit organization headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and Norwich University’s David Crawford School of Engineering (DCSE) in Northfield, Vermont, are partnering to develop novel technical solutions to assist and improve the quality of life for injured veterans and first responders.

QL+ pairs students in leading engineering programs at colleges and universities across the country with former service members or first responders who have sustained life-altering injuries and for whom a creative engineering solution can dramatically impact the quality of their life.

Norwich University is QL+’s fourteenth partner in this decade-long project, which has helped so many across the country.

“The Quality of Life Plus Program is excited to partner with Norwich University to capture the creative talents of its senior engineering students,” said QL+ founder Jon Monett. “Norwich has a long and impressive history, having offered one of the earliest collegiate engineering programs in the country. Norwich students and graduates have literally built this nation, and we are proud to partner with the oldest senior military college and birthplace of ROTC.” Monett added “Partnering with Norwich makes a great fit, and we look forward to a long and beneficial relationship.” 

For the first year of this partnership, four Norwich Mechanical Engineering students will assist an Army veteran who had an accident that left her paralyzed in 2005. She uses a manual wheelchair for mobility and enjoys gardening, carpentry, automotive repair, and working on home improvement projects. She has to “hang” over her wheelchair to do any work close to the ground which causes back, neck, and shoulder pain. Her other option is to transfer out of her wheelchair to the ground, but then she is stationary and has to drag her body across the ground to move. This causes skin breakdown, splinters, and she can get wet and muddy.

The challenge for Norwich engineering students is to design and build a functional adapted “creeper” so the veteran can safely work at ground level on various projects inside and outside her home. Although created for one veteran, the proposed assistive innovation has the potential to serve many more users, veterans and civilians alike. 

“It is an honor to partner with QL+ to pair our engineering students’ senior year project with such a mission-driven organization,” David Crawford Engineering School Director Stephen Fitzhugh said. “This partnership is a natural fit with our school’s experiential approach to learning.”

QL+ student engineers develop novel technical solutions to assist and improve the quality of life for wounded veterans. Throughout the academic year, QL+ mentors, monitors, and supports the collaboration between the veterans and the student teams. After the academic year, the student teams formally present the completed assistive device or modified hardware to the veteran for use in their daily life. Each project is unique, and the innovations are created to give the veterans the confidence and independence to engage in the activities they enjoy. While these assistive devices are tailored to the needs of the individual participating veteran, the solutions frequently help other injured veterans.  

QL+ is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, with its major lab at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California. It also has a dedicated lab at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Established QL+ programs also operate at Virginia Tech, Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, the University of Dayton, San Diego State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, the University of Texas, San Antonio, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. For the 2019/2020 academic year, George Washington University, Rowan University, Catholic University, the University of South Florida and the United States Naval Academy will be joining the QL+ Family of Universities along with Norwich University.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Norwich University celebrates its bicentennial throughout 2019, culminating with major events at Homecoming in September. In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders, Norwich launched the Forging the Future campaign in 2014. The five-year campaign, which is timed to culminate in 2019, is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities and is designed to enhance the university’s strong position as it steps into its third century of service to the nation. For information please go to:

Source: NORTHFIELD, Vt. – 9.12.2019