UA Engineering Students Develop Toys for RISE Center

  • April 6th, 2005

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama senior mechanical engineering students have designed and built ride-on toys for children who have motor skill limitations and attend the RISE Program at the Stallings Center. Besides giving the children toys to ride, the toys will provide these children with experience in driving electronic devices and help prepare them for electric wheelchairs sooner.

The toys will be delivered to the RISE Center at 2 p.m. April 7. The vehicles will contribute to a new playground being built at the center.

The mechanical engineering design class divided into teams to produce four toys for children ranging from ages 2 to 6. The toys are very similar in form to the Fisher-Price® Power Wheels® toys. Some of the teams bought Power Wheels toys and modified them to suit the needs of the project. The teams added electronic speed control, electronic steering and safety cut-off switches in the event an obstruction is hit.

“This design project gives students experience in mechanical engineering design as well as valuable experience in helping clients with real-life issues,” says Dr. Steve Kavanaugh, the professor of mechanical engineering who instructs the class.

For more than 25 years, UA’s RISE Program has helped prepare more than 2,300 children, both disabled and non-disabled, for public school classes. RISE holds accreditation from The National Association for the Education of Young Children; a prestigious recognition only achieved by 7 percent of early childhood programs nationwide.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, the College of Engineering has about 1,800 students and more than 95 faculty. It has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.

Note to Editors: To receive photos, please contact Mary Wymer at 205/348-6444 or


Dr. Steve Kavanaugh, professor of mechanical engineering, 205/348-1649,


Caitlin Tudzin, Engineering Student Writer, 205/348-3051,
Mary Wymer, 205/348-6444

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.