Come next holiday season, visitors might have to look toward the ceiling to see the latest Santa Claus exhibit at the annual Children's Wonderland.
If visitors like what they see, they'll have a group of University of Toledo students to thank.
The university held its semi-annual undergraduate research and senior design engineering exposition yesterday on campus at Nitschke Hall. Students highlighted projects, including a contraption for suspending a 22-pound Santa Claus from a ceiling at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee, where the wonderland is held.
The Santa Claus, which is seated in an airplane, is designed to move on a cable that's operated by a motor. But the "flying" Santa is stationary.
"It will stay up, but more reinforcements are needed to make [Santa] move," said Dustin Horn, 23, of Fremont, who worked on the project.
Students hope it's operational by next Christmas.
The mechanical engineering students devised the suspended Santa at the request of recreation center officials, who paid for the materials.
Other students participated in projects this semester for other clients, including an employee of the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. Kim Dittman sought an extension of handles on her wheelchair, largely to make it more comfortable for people of any height.
The result was a device that can be removed from the chair at any time. It even includes a cup holder on the side.
The attachment was tested for stress and safety factors as well, said student Doug Stricker, 23.
The event yesterday also spotlighted similar projects focusing on people with disabilities. They included a wheelchair trunk lift, a wheelchair-accessible skeet shooting platform, and a wheelchair for a recreational swimming pool.
A vision of Toledo's proposed Marina District also was on display - as seen through the eyes of 20 students.
Members of the senior design team created mixed uses for 125 acres on the east side of the Maumee River, including marinas, docks, seasonal and off-season attractions, restaurants, and parks. They combined some of their favorite offerings and concepts at other cities across the nation to create their Toledo-based plans.
The first phase of the project, the students said, would cost the city just over $12 million. Future UT classes are expected to develop other phases of the district.
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