CORVALLIS, Ore. - Mechanical engineering students at Oregon State University have designed simulated "breath-controlled" fishing rod devices that can be used by people with limited or no use of their arms and will demonstrate their prototypes during a Dec. 1 competition on the OSU campus.

The event is free and open to the public, and a special invitation is extended to students in grades K-12 and their families. It will begin at 7 p.m. in Milam Auditorium on the OSU campus.

The fishing devices, which must accurately and repeatedly cast a conventional fishing lure and retrieve a hooked fish using only switches, are part of an introductory mechanical engineering design class at OSU. The ultimate goal is to enable seniors, stroke victims, people with quadriplegia and others with compromised strength or coordination to enjoy fishing.

"This is an excellent example of how we teach students to apply engineering theory and methods to real-world problems, to improve the quality of life," said Ping Ge, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at OSU who teaches a class on introduction to design. "Students not only demonstrate classroom learning through the design process, but they also gain first-hand experience in teamwork, communication and collaboration because they work in small teams."

Each year the American Society of Mechanical Engineers extends a design challenge as the basis for its International Design Competition for College Students. OSU incorporates the design challenge as one part of its introductory design class. The team that demonstrates the best design at the OSU event has the opportunity to move on to regional possibly international competitions.

"Applications for this assistive technology go far beyond fishing-rod operation," Ge said. "It also enables people with disabilities to open doors, control ovens, sail boats, operate wheelchairs, use televisions and computers and participate in many activities that would otherwise be inaccessible."

The prototypes demonstrated at the campus competition will be controlled by simulated breath-controlled switches instead of actual "sip-and-puff" switches, and teams will be scored based on the accuracy of the casting and compliance with the design requirements.

For more information, contact: Ping Ge at 541-737-7713 or

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Ping Ge, 541-737-7713