New Home Elevator Provides an Option for Elderly, Disabled
Model to cost thousands less than available
Troy, N.Y. — A home elevator can cost upward of $20,000, which
is a steep price for the disabled or elderly who wish to
maintain their independence.
A group of college students in Troy, N.Y., has built a
solution: a home elevator that will cost thousands less than
what is currently on the market.
This spring, 23 students from mechanical, materials,
electrical, and industrial engineering at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute have completed a working full-scale,
two-story version (18 ft. high) of the in-home elevator. The
project, built in the O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design
Laboratory’s (MDL) Fabrication and Prototyping Area, is
sponsored by United Technologies Corporation (UTC).
Students explored a new motor design and different materials
for the door and walls to keep the costs low. Casey Kruger ’02
and John Hobden ’02, both mechanical engineering majors, have
high hopes for the project. “We’ll have some recommendations to
make to UTC,” said Hobden. “We’re pretty confident with our
model,” Kruger added.
Hector Hurtado ’02, an electric power engineering major from
Ecuador, is grateful for the experience he received while
working on the project. “The hands-on experience taught me to
think through problems I didn’t have to worry about in class.
Also, since English is not my first language, I was able to
learn new engineering terms by working with students in other
areas of engineering,” he said.
The O.T. Swanson MDL, which was completed in 2000, simulates
the work environment that graduates can expect to find as they
begin their careers. The students, from different disciplines
and schools within Rensselaer, work together in teams to take a
project from initial design to manufacturing. Industry sponsors
provide support and guidance throughout the project.
The team-oriented and industry-like atmosphere the MDL
provides is “a win-win situation for the students and industry
sponsors,” said Robin Miller, UTC’s representative. UTC is so
impressed with their experience that they will sponsor another
project next year.
The very real need for many of the products produced in the
MDL is as important to students as the practical experience
they gain, noted Mark Steiner, director of the MDL. Other O.T.
Swanson MDL projects have included a golf cart retrofit and a
water exercise device to help the disabled participate in
physical activity. “These projects give the students a chance
to do something important, something they get excited about,”
Contact: Bruce Adams
Phone: (518) 276-6531