Dubuque students invention gains national attention - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque students invention gains national attention

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Eleven Wahlert High School students are getting national attention with an idea three years in the making. The group developed the Feltes One Way, which is a universal anti-rollback device for manual wheelchairs that prevents them from rolling backwards on inclines.

The students are currently semifinalists in the 2014-15 Lemelson-MIT InventTeams competition for the Feltes One Way invention.

The students could receive up to $100,000 to work on their invention for the rest of the school year. If selected, the students will present the final design for the Feltes One Way in Boston in June.

Rachel Hefel is one of the students who has been working on the project since 8th grade. She said it all started with a classroom project the group was assigned.

"One of the things you had to do was have a senior partner that you could consult with and they could tell you problems and we decided to go with my grandfather," said Hefel.

Hefel said Thursday that her grandfather used a manual wheelchair and informed the group that it was sometimes difficult to go up inclines and open doors. Her father has since passed away. The group decided to name the invention after him.

The group came up with a system to attach to the manual wheelchair that locks the wheels when put into place, so the individual does not roll backwards.

A prototype of the creation was built by the students when they were in 8th grade. Now sophomores in high school, the students have created a more up to date prototype that they would like to create.

The group is hopeful they will able to market the project in the future.

"If we are able to go forward with it hopefully we can help hundreds if not thousands of people," said Hefel.

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