High School Robotics Team Build Wheelchairs


The Farmington Robotics team builds a wheelchair | Image by Deanna Weniger/Pioneer Press.

A high school robotics team has been building a resource that changes lives — wheelchairs for disabled children.

The Farmington High School Robotics team calls themselves Rogue Robotics. They’ve customized seven wheelchairs for children with movement disabilities since 2019.

It all started after Tyler Jackson reached out to the high school when they realized insurance wouldn’t cover the power wheelchair that his 2-year-old Cillian needed. Normal power wheelchairs can cost upwards of $20,000, and Cillian was born with a genetic disorder that makes it difficult to move. “He has an especially hard time controlling his body. He has a lot of symptoms you’d see in someone who has cerebral palsy,” said Jackson.

The students handcrafted Cillian’s power wheelchair from a Power Wheels riding toy. They replaced almost every electrical component of the Power Wheel toy, used a 3-D printer to design a joystick perfect for the 2-year-old, and mounted a seat from a bike carrier. “These kids took time out of their busy schedules to do this for our son,” said Cillian’s mother, Krissy Jackson. “We’re so grateful.”

The team’s coach, Spencer Elvebak, said when he initially brought the idea up to students, they unanimously agreed that this was something they were committed to.

Four months later and students got a chance to see Cillian in action when he visited the classroom to show them what he’s learned how to do in his new wheels. “This really helps him explore like he’s never been able to do before,” Cillian’s mom said.

Families of two children that have received custom wheelchairs and have since outgrown them returned them back to the team to modify for another child.

Although most Dallas ISD schools offer robotics as an after-school club, the district gives students with disabilities a chance to participate in robotics too. A partnership with REC Foundation and The Dallas ISD Special Services department allows special needs students the opportunity to compete in robotics competitions at 13 schools.

Rogue Robotics is the first robotics team at the high school, and they’re doing huge things. In 2019, the program was honored by former First Lady Melania Trump, and the program won its first regional competition in the program’s 14-year history.

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