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UCSD Students, La Costa Glen Residents Collaborate on Next Gen Products for Older Adults

UCSD La Costa Glen Design Competition

UCSD engineering student Kevin Nematzadeh demonstrates the Mighty Cart to La Costa Glen residents Jane Ditmars and Sheila Griffin at the UCSD Design Competition Showcase.

CARLSBAD, CALIF. – After months of collaboration matching the engineering skills of college students with the life skills of seniors, the “Best Device to Improve the Quality of Life of Seniors” was finally determined earlier this month.

More than 25 students from UC San Diego’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department partnered with 50 residents from La Costa Glen continuing care retirement community to develop new products that help seniors with daily living. The seniors met with the students for several weeks to offer feedback and suggestions for the products, leading to numerous “test drives” and prototypes. The design process culminated in a Design Competition Showcase at UCSD in early June where the residents watched the final presentations and cast their vote for their favorite product.

The winner was the Mighty Cart, a motorized, foldable shopping cart that makes it easier for seniors to handle heavy loads. Fountain of Youth, the team that developed the Mighty Cart, earned $4,000 for their winning design. Second place went to AirSave, which won $2,000 for its product that inflates if a person is in danger of falling. Third place and $1,000 went to Team VITA. The team designed a pressure-sensitive carpet that lights up when stepped on to help seniors find their way in the dark. A total of seven teams competed in this year’s challenge.

Sheila Griffin, a La Costa Glen resident who participated in the UCSD project, said it was “a fantastic experience working with these young engineers, and so interesting to see how they adjusted their products over time to incorporate the input and advice from the residents. Beyond that, it was also an emotional experience. I found myself very attached to the students and rooting for all of them. It was incredibly difficult to select one ‘best’ product.”

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