Godfrey, a 1986 industrial engineering graduate who played alongside Carlo Barkley When the Tigers reached Elite 8 before embarking on a highly successful 30-year career in logistics consulting and brand management, they were diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2019. ALS degrades nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It causes loss of muscle control, paralysis. It should stop you from doing things like completing a 20-mile charity bike ride.
But it didn’t, thanks to 13 students Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering who said “yes” to the challenge.
Last week, a senior design team consisting of eight mechanical engineering seniors, one industrial master’s volunteer student, three mechanical engineering graduate teaching assistants, and one university teaching assistant completed a custom-designed, student-designed adaptive bicycle that could accommodate Godfrey and the vehicle operator, Chuck Smith, an experienced cyclist who has known Godfrey for years. The team was supervised by an assistant professor of mechanical engineering Kyle Schulze and teacher of mechanical engineering Giordano Robertswho is also director of the Design and Manufacturing Lab at Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
For an initial test drive, the team contacted Auburn tight senior Luca Dealthat at 6 “5 and 260 pounds could nearly replicate Godfrey’s 6 foot 8 inches 290 pound frame. Deal’s father, Chris, was diagnosed with ALS in early 2021.
The bike is a modified cargo ebike with a custom frame that includes a hot swappable battery for continuous operation. Godfrey sat firmly in the front of the bike between two 20-inch tires pushed by the motorized rear wheel and was monitored by three primary sensors – two GoPro cameras and a “twitch switch” – which allowed his support team to monitor his vital signs during the race. The twitch switch was attached to Godfrey’s cheek and connected to a system of lights and sirens that allowed him to signal the team via the slight facial mobility he maintains if he were in danger. He was secured to a racing seat with a five-point harness and his head was supported by a HANS device typical of motorsport safety.
“Building the bike for Gary was a great experience because it was an example of a real-world design and construction process – we were working on a tight schedule with a large group,” said the mechanical engineering senior. Joshua McCreight, the project team leader. “I’m really glad we made it in time for Gary to participate in Bo Bikes Bama. We made a commitment to finish it, not only because it was our senior design project, but because it’s a great way to share the positive impact of the story of Gary. “
Starting and finishing at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Godfrey and Smith completed the event’s 20-mile course in approximately two hours.
Godfrey and his wife, Carol, who also have degrees in industrial and systems engineering from Auburn in 1986, he first approached college about the project late last year.
“We weren’t willing to give up on the things we love just because of a bad break,” Carol said. “Gary has ALS, but ALS doesn’t have Gary.”
Started in 2011, Bo Bikes Bama is an annual charity ride led by two sports legend Bo Jackson for the benefit of the Governor’s Emergency Aid Fund. This year’s race was the first in person since 2019.
Before the race, Auburn University President elect Chris Robertsformer dean of Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, along with Auburn University Football coach Bryan Harsin and Auburn Mayor Ron Anderspowered Godfrey with a short demonstration of the bike’s capabilities.
“This project and this day represent the full circle of Auburn mission of education, research and awareness, “said Roberts.” The bike performed incredibly well. I am so proud of these students and so happy for Gary. This is what the Auburn family is all about. “
“Thanks to these engineering students from Auburn,” Godfrey said through the speech generation device he controls with his eyes, “I got to feel the wind in my face again.”
SOURCE Auburn University-University of Engineering