Engineering Students’ Camera Mount for Wheelchair Users is Ready for its Close-up

Northeastern University’s Enabling Engineering club designed a new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mount that brings independence to wheelchair filmmakers by eliminating their dependence on others for setting up shots and making filmmaking more accessible.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cyrus Moulton. Main photo: Priyanka Jalan, program manager and Iniyan Manikandavelu, 3D printing assistant, at Enabling Engineering, demonstrate a new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mount at Ell Hall on May 10. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

For Julie-Marie Chibekete, a documentary filmmaker from Malawi who uses a wheelchair, setting up a shot required more than just a good eye.

“She depended on others to set up shots to do her filmmaking,” says Jody Santos, associate teaching professor at Northeastern University and founding executive director of the Disability Justice Project, a nonprofit media organization that makes filmmaking more accessible for disabled filmmakers in developing countries.

But Chibekete, a fellow with the Disability Justice Project, is no longer dependent, thanks to students in the Northeastern’s Enabling Engineering club who designed a new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mount.

“It brings independence,” Chibekete says. “It brings a smile.”

A new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mountA new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mount

A new durable, low-cost wheelchair camera mount. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The Enabling Engineering club applies engineering to enable and empower individuals with disabilities. The wheelchair camera mount was one of several projects members of the club unveiled at a recent presentation.

Rising third-year students Olivia Peters Van Aalst, an electrical and computer engineering major, and Alexandros Paliouras, an electrical engineering major also pursuing a minor in sustainable energy systems, took on several engineering challenges when presented with Chibekete’s predicament.

First, they had to make a product that met not only Chibekete’s needs, but the needs of other potential filmmakers who use wheelchairs. Thus, the mount had to be flexible enough and adjustable enough to work with different wheelchairs, filmmakers of varying heights, different cameras and more. But it also had to be stable and sturdy.

“We were trying to make a one-size-fits-all device that is applicable to any situation,” Paliouras says. “We weren’t measuring anything to meet a requirement, we had to meet a range.”

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering