Makers Making Change intern Kerilyn

Fourth year Dalhousie University mechanical engineering student Kerilyn Kennedy is no stranger to assistive design.

Last year, she worked with fellow Dalhousie students and members of the Dalbox Access program to design a shelter device for people who use wheelchairs when transferring in and out of their vehicles during bad weather.

As part of the 2021 Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition, Kerilyn and teammates identified the need for the device by working with a focus group, which they learned that such a shelter was a common need during rain or snow, when the transfer process can take upwards of five minutes or more. They designed the “Swing Door Shelter,” which is fixed to the roof of the vehicle and opens and closes with the door, requiring nearly no extra effort by the user, and is composed of polyurethane laminate, which is cost-efficient, waterproof, and durable.

For their efforts they won the third place prize in the Architectural/Industrial Design Barriers category in the national 2021 IDeA competition.

Now, Kerilyn continues her work in assistive design as an engineering intern for Makers Making Change in Nova Scotia. (Having learnt about MMC during the job search in a previous co-op term, she was inspired to buy a 3D printer and learn how to use it).

“I just really think that everybody should have equal opportunities,” she explains. “I’m really inspired by how all of [Makers Making Change’s] designs are open source for the assistive technology, which makes it super inclusive not only to use the devices but for people to potentially build them on their own. It’s just something I really want to be a part of.”

One of the early projects she worked on is the Smartphone Magnification Stand. Inspired by the Visor Smartphone Stand, this inexpensive, 3D printed stand for a phone is meant to be paired with a magnification app, allowing users to enlarge or increase the contrast of text to make it easier to read. The device also works for those with low finger dexterity to take steady pictures.

She also worked on upgrading our Bag Carrier design. The original design was a bit bulky, and took too long to print.

“I realized with the print settings they were using, the bag carrier was very, very strong, so I was actually able to compromise some of the strength to get the print time down,” she says, noting that she conducted strength testing to ensure the bag carriers can carry enough weight.

In addition to a sleeker looking design, she also created three standard size options for the bag carrier, giving users and makers more options without needing to customize it themselves.

Along with fellow intern Tyler, she is currently working on Makers Making Change’s upcoming adapted gaming initiative. Recently she led a Lift Switch build event with her old high school, Dr J.H. Gillis Regional High School.

Kerilyn has enjoyed her time so far with Makers Making Change. After completing her co-op term, Kerilyn, who also plays for the Dalhousie rugby team, will go back to finish the fifth and final year of her degree, and wants to continue working in a field that involves design.