View online edition


Rowan University Engineering Students Improve Veterans’ Quality of Life

Quality of Life Plus (QL+), a non-profit organization headquartered in McLean, VA, is sponsoring a capstone project at Rowan University (Rowan) that will dramatically improve a veteran’s quality of life.

Rowan engineering students are designing and building a “One-Arm Paddle Device” as their capstone project for Army veteran David Snypes. Snypes, a QL+ “Challenger,” is collaborating with the student team at Rowan to create a device to help him safely and independently kayak, despite his mobility limitations.

David sustained an injury to his left arm that resulted in a non-functioning (paralyzed) arm. He wears a brace to keep it stabilized. He enjoys kayaking, but his right arm is so strong that he usually breaks the adapted paddles he uses. The students have been tasked with the challenge of designing and building a kayak paddle that toes not he can use with one hand. It cannot be too heavy, and it must not put too much force on his wrist. It must also be durable so that it doesn’t break with the amount of torque put on it.

“QL+ provides challenges for senior design and engineering students, allowing them to work directly with our wounded veterans, harnessing technology and common-sense engineering practices to improve their daily lives,” said Quality of Life Plus Founder Jon Monett. “David’s participation in our program is invaluable. He is giving our engineering students the opportunity to focus their passion and talent on helping our nation’s heroes. David is helping us build better engineers.”

The student engineers began working on this project in September of 2019. The goal is to have the project completed by Spring, 2020. Snypes will be working with the students at every stage, providing feedback, suggestions, and testing the devices to make sure they meet her needs.

QL+ student engineers develop novel technical solutions to assist and improve the quality of life for our wounded veterans. Each project is unique, and the innovations are created to give the veterans the confidence and independence to engage in the activities they enjoy. While these assistive devices are tailored to the needs of the individual participating veteran, the solutions frequently help other injured veterans.

QL+ is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, with its major lab at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California. It also has a dedicated lab at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Established QL+ programs also operate at Virginia Tech, Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, the University of Dayton, San Diego State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, the University of Texas, San Antonio, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. For the 2019/2020 academic year, George Washington University, Norwich University, Rowan University, Catholic University, the University of South Florida, and the United States Naval Academy joined the QL+ Family of Universities.

For more information on Quality of Life Plus, visit