Skip to main content
Ideas at the Intersection

Dual-telescoping Ramp
Lightweight, portable ramp helps wheelchair users navigate bumps, steps, and curbs

Four engineering freshman collaborated on this project for Design Thinking and Communication (DTC). The challenge: develop a product that improves the lives of wheelchair users and their caretakers. 

The portable, dual-telescoping ramp can be carried and set up by a caretaker while on the go.
The portable, dual-telescoping ramp can be carried and set up by a caretaker while on the go.


While many public spaces have become wheelchair accessible, wheelchair users still have difficulty navigating steep curbs and broken sidewalks, and even many ramps are not user friendly.

We want to tackle the problem of stepping over curbs, which can be difficult for wheelchair users. Even when ramps do exist, it can be difficult to roll up them. It’s tiring. Nathan Miller, Dual-telescoping Ramp, Co-creator


A portable, dual-telescoping ramp that can be carried and set up by a caretaker while on the go. Each set comprises two ramps — one for each wheel — that can be stacked and stored in a condensed manner.


Development Process

The Design Thinking and Communication course challenged the freshman team to develop a product to help wheelchair users. After talking with and observing wheelchair users and their caregivers at Lambs Farm, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities, the team narrowed down the broad problem to address curbs. Although their first prototype broke under the weight of a wheelchair, they refined their locking mechanism to create a successful model.

Current Status

The team’s current prototype is wood, which is still bulky and heavier than ideal. They plan to make their next model out of lightweight aluminum or plastic to make it easier to carry.

Updated May 2016

CourseDesign Thinking and Communication
TeamWilliam Barron (computer science), Paul Klatt (mechanical engineering), Nathan Miller mechanical engineering), Millie Rosen (chemical engineering, art)
Community PartnerLambs Farm
More Like ThisHealthcareImpact

There's something to be said for the crazy person that starts the thing.

Zachary JohnsonCo-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Syndio Social

Innovation is creativity that is implemented. It must influence what we do and how we experience our lives.

Elizabeth GerberAssociate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Engineering sometimes works not by satisfying recognized needs but by creating the needs it satisfies.

Julio OttinoDean, Northwestern Engineering

Empathy is the foundation of design thinking. We want to find needs that are often unarticulated and might be different from what the data show.

Greg HolderfieldDirector, Segal Design Institute
View All Projects