My name is Alex Tacescu. I am a student at Clovis North High School in Fresno, California. I would like to share with you my experience with someone dear to me and the impact it had in my life. My grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease a few years ago. I remember playing chess with him and noticing his hand trembling when making the next move.
Several years ago, while I was visiting him during my summer vacation, I was shocked to see his transformation due to Parkinson's disease. He was struggling to perform his daily tasks and seeing the suffering in his eyes, I wanted to do something for him.
Maneuvering a wheelchair in tight spaces around his apartment was difficult and after losing a lot of weight he had a hard time handling a walker. Always a natural tinkerer, I envisioned a device that would better suit the needs of my grandfather and others with Parkinson’s to help them maneuver tight spaces. I am a fan of robotics, and during my participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition I learned how to design and build robots, and I became passionate about it. I remember discussing the advantage of building a device with my grandfather that would help people. It was important for him to regain his independence. Continuing his normal routine was all he wanted. We talked about how many people could benefit from a device like this and how I can make a difference in their lives.
Over the next year I developed a prototype of an omni-directional robotic mobility system that can move in any direction: forward, rearward, side to side and pivot around its axis, facilitating easy maneuverability in tight spaces. It is primarily designed to be used in the upright position and with its intuitive driving system, it is suitable for a wide range of people.
My Project Maverick concept prototype received international recognition at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, but what inspired me the most to continue the project was the positive feedback from elderly parents and people with chronic illnesses. They instilled in me the confidence that the final product could have a high impact in improving the lives of many people. I have since completed a fully functional prototype.
Unfortunately, my grandfather is no longer with us to benefit from my idea, but I continue to live with the hope that other people like him can benefit from a mobility solution like this.
Alex continues to work on optimizing Project Maverick so he can better help people with Parkinson’s disease. To learn more about Project Maverick visit his website: www.pmaverick.weebly.com.