For the past few weeks, members of the R&D department at SOLIDWORKS have been pouring over monster truck designs. They’re now cozy with the designs and dimensions of some of the regulars at Monster Jam, a massive event where monster trucks compete in races and perform freestyle stunts. Wheel size, chassis proportion, lights, water proofing, the whole she-bang, R&D is studying and considering everything. All of this is so they can design the best costume possible for Jonah, their match from the Magic Wheelchair organization. Jonah is a wheelchair-bound eleven-year-old, and SOLIDWORKS is taking on the exciting challenge of gifting him with the most incredible costume they can bring to life.
On April 15th, members of the team went down to Kingston, MA, to visit Jonah for the first time and surprise him with the news about his costume. Jonah is a whip-smart kid, super funny and articulate, and was more than curious about all the people and contraptions surrounding him on that Sunday afternoon. While the team set up 3D scanning and photo equipment, User Experience Design Senior Manager Chinloo Lama sat with Jonah and explained what Magic Wheelchair is, and how SOLIDWORKS would be creating whatever kind of costume he wanted.
Every year, Jonah and his family attend Monster Jam where Jonah watches his favorite trucks perform wild feats. Jonah loves monster trucks. “I can’t explain it,” he said when asked why. “It’s just something appealing to me.” He’s always loved moving machines, ever since he was kid playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. Monster trucks were, of course, the next logical step in his line of interests. How much does Jonah like Monster Jam? His Youtube channel, where he posts videos of himself playing video games like Roblox, Minecraft, and Slither.io, is named Monster Jamer, pronounced like ‘Monster Jammer’ (“When I created it I wasn’t thinking about grammar and spelling,” he told me). Jonah’s absolute favorite monster truck is Max-D (full name Maximum Destruction) and when he found out he was going to have a costume designed around his chair, Max-D was at the top of his list.
SOLIDWORKS spent over an hour with Jonah, 3D scanning him in his chair, measuring his wheelchair dimensions, and learning more about him and what he wants for a costume. He wants the mini-Max-D to cover his chair, so he can have his own little dashboard, and he wants an air horn noise go off when he pushes his chair’s sensor button. He’d also like the wheels of the car to move when the wheels on his wheelchair move, and he needs room to maneuver his right arm so he can move his chair’s joystick. That, along with the size of his parent’s van, are all things the team needs to take into consideration when building the costume.
Jonah’s family will be attending Monster Jam in Foxboro, MA, on June 9. The team hopes to have the costume done by that deadline. Jonah is having spinal surgery in July, so the clock is ticking away. What will happen? Will the R&D team be able to make maker moves in time? Whatever happens, we’ll keep on (monster) truckin’!
SOLIDWORKS is partnering with the Magic Wheelchair to create an over-the-top costume for a child in a wheelchair. According to their mission statement, “Magic Wheelchair builds epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs — at no cost to families.” Keep On (Monster) Truckin’ is an ongoing series dedicated to updating our readers on the current project’s progress.