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UW Engineering Student Group Designs Adaptive Hunting Trailer

November 18, 2016
WDH President Corey McGregor in front of the adaptive hunting trailer built by a CEAS student team.
WDH President Corey McGregor in front of the adaptive hunting trailer built by a CEAS student team.

Disabled Wyoming hunters just got a big boost, thanks to a project designed and built by a team of University of Wyoming mechanical engineering students.

The contingent comprised of John Ysebaert (Laramie, Wyo.), Vincent Vogt (Powell, Wyo.), Mike Barbero (Arvada, Colo.) and Nathan Benzel (Dayton, Wyo.) designed and built an adaptive tow-behind trailer to assist disabled hunters. Associate Lecturer Kevin Kilty, in the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), was the supervising engineer for the project. Associate Professor Mark Garnich served as the project adviser.

The project will benefit the Wyoming Disabled Hunters (WDH), an organization located in Cody. Founded in 2008, WDH is a non-profit organization made up of Wyoming residents who have a personal connection with physically challenged hunters, and has an organizational goal to provide affordable hunts for hunters who are disabled. The trailer was delivered in November to Corey McGregor, the president of WDH.

The trailer was completed as part of a National Science Foundation Biomedical Engineering and Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities Program grant that links senior design teams with ideas and projects that assist disabled persons. Vogt worked with the organization previously and noticed a need for an assistive device for field dressing and loading the animals. He told Ysebaert about the idea, and it took off from there.

“I have a lot of good friends who are big hunters but are missing limbs or are physically disabled in some way, so I was looking to help a group like that,” Ysebaert says. “When Vince brought up the idea for senior design, I jumped right on board. It is a fantastic feeling that our project got delivered, and it’s even better that the group actually uses it and loves it.

“Not many projects get completed and delivered like ours did, so we are all really proud of that. We helped a group of people who actually needed it.”

The team built a 5-foot by 10-foot flatbed trailer to haul large animals, ATVs, and allow smaller vehicles to pull it through wooded trails. The design accounted for easy assembly by one or two people. The hoist also had to be compatible with different size trailers, and because the WDH will use it in the wilderness, it had to feature off-road capabilities.

The team outlined the reasoning behind the project in its senior design report.

“Once an animal has been shot in the field, the real work begins,” the report states. “For many people who are disabled, this is a large setback for becoming an independent hunter. They require another person hunting with them to assist in processing and field dressing the game animal. Our senior design project is aimed to solve this problem by the use of a trailer.

“Our trailer is outfitted with a hydraulically powered hoist arm utilizing a winch for game retrieval. Upon shooting an elk, deer or antelope, the trailer is backed up to the animal within the distance of the winch cable and retrieved using the power winch. Once the animal is at the trailer, the arm is used to lift the animal into the air where it can then be field dressed and skinned by a person in a wheelchair from ground level.”

The students had several goals to meet, including constructing a hoist capable of lifting 1,000 pounds to ensure the hoist would adequately lift a mature bull elk. Another goal was to ensure the product was “marketable” and would be able to compete with already established products.

“We fulfilled this goal by designing an adjustable system to fit multiple size trailers,” the report states. “No other company makes an adjustable hoist system and we knew if we were successful at designing an adjustable unit while retaining our lifting capacity we would ultimately have a solid foundation to get our foot in the door and compete in sales.”

Many people were involved in the completing the project, including UW employees like Mike Schilt (CEAS Shop) and Tara Evans in the General Counsel office. Scott Keeney, with White’s University Motors in Laramie, donated time for technical work on the trailer.

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