UW-Madison engineering students create ramp prototype to make boating more accessible

For a group of UW–Madison engineering students, their latest prototype is personal. A dozen students with the Society of Women Engineers have created a remote-controlled ramp to allow those with mobility limitations to more safely get on and off small boats such as pontoons.

Their design could help the two brothers of one of the students, Mary Laudon. Both have disabilities and one has trouble walking and requires significant amounts of one-on-one attention. “Boating is something that we can all enjoy, and when he can come with, it means my parents can come with a break from everyday life,” Laudon said.

The prototype includes a ramp that can be adjusted to the height of a dock and a remote-controlled pontoon boat door that opens and closes in both directions. Where the design goes next will depend on whether Mercury Marine and its parent company, Brunswick, decide to pursue a patent or use aspects of it in their own designs, senior engineering student Madeline Morrell said.


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