Whether paddling rivers or climbing mountains, people with disabilities require innovative solutions to achieve mobility. If the objective is to live and travel as lightly as possible – and not run roughshod --through the wilderness, then our engineering concerns must focus on minimizing adverse mechanical impact. As a scientist, engineer, outdoor adventurer as well as a paraplegic for 22 years, Dr. Peter Rieke demonstrates advancements in mobility focused engineering and solutions for the disabled. Through these advancements, Dr. Rieke discusses how a quadriplegic might just be able to climb mountains too.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Rieke backpacked in the Cascades and Olympics, kayaking, and summiting a number of Cascade volcanoes. After dropping out of the University of Montana, he lived for four years in the brush in a home-built trailer before returning to study chemistry and going on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Dr. Rieke worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developing programs in bio-mimetic materials, 3D printing of fuel cells, and mechanistic modeling of the dissolution of glass nuclear waste forms. During that time, he built up the climbing program for the Intermountain Alpine Club, teaching basic rock climbing, rescue and more. In 1994, he broke both his neck and back while climbing. Since then Dr. Rieke has developed new mobility devices to enhance access for disabled folks to the outdoors. Best known is the snow-pod, a human, arm powered, machine with rubber tracks. He used it to summit Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Mr. Shasta.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx