Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 27, 2013

A new set of wheels

West Middle, ULowell team up on adaptive bike for staffer's son


The Andover Townsman

---- — Carl Risso is pedaling once again thanks to the efforts of some engineering students at ULowell and the support of West Middle School.

When Vickie Risso, an assistant with the EXCEL specialized instruction program at West Middle, mentioned her son, Carl, who uses a wheelchair, had outgrown his adaptive bike, the staff decided to help.

The school, which is on the ULowell distribution list for robotics classes and other teacher trainings, connected with the advisor for engineering students at the university who were deciding on their senior capstone project. The undergraduates took on the task of upgrading Carl Risso’s bicycle.

Throughout the project, the ULowell students provided updates on the project for the West Middle seventh-graders as they worked on completing their own science/engineering fair projects. In April, the ULowell students came to West Middle to give a presentation on the engineering process and their progress reconfiguring Risso’s bike.

Then last Friday, June 21, the West Middle community got to see the unveiling of Risso’s new wheels.

For his first ride on his newly configured adaptive bike, Risso raced a scooter-riding Principal Steve Murray down the hallways of West Middle — beating the school’s New York Yankees-loving administrator across the finish line as students and staff members cheered.

The ULowell students who participated in the project are from Lynn, Woburn, Needham and Nashua, N.H.