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South Dearborn grad focused on inclusive transportation

Duerstock was paralyzed as high school student

Photo: Purdue University / John Underwood

(WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.) -- Bradley Duerstock was a student at South Dearborn High School when he experienced a life-changing injury.

Duerstock was paralyzed from an accident that occured while swimming at the high school pool.

He went to Purdue and majored in Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology.

Over the years, Duerstock has seen technology get developed that isn't always usable for people with disabilties. It has led him to researching and developing inclusive technologies.

He has focused on topics related to technology accessibility and inclusive design, with the goal of shaping the future of transportation.

Duerstock was part of a Purdue research team that developed a fully autonomous vehicle for people with disabilities. The project won the U.S. Department of Transportation's “Inclusive Design Challenge" and was awarded $1 million earlier this year.

“It’s really the wrong way to go to figure out how to adapt technology for a wheelchair user after already developing the technology,” Duerstock aid. “But if, instead, we consider, ‘Hey, these are all the needs,’ and then create some standards based on the minimum requirements of what the entire population needs, we can design the vehicle around those minimum standards.” 

The Purdue professor is now the co-director of a project focused on greater inclusivity of airplanes and autonomous and electric vehicles. Last week, the team was awarded $4.75M for the next five years.

In 2015, Duerstock developed wheelchair technology to allow people with disabilities to more easily position and remove an iPad or other mobile device without being limited by a table or moving in and out of the chair. The company has recently developed its first prototype.

He is the son of Marvin Duerstock who served as South Dearborn principal from 1981 to 1998. Marvin was the co-founder of South Dearborn's Dollars for Scholars program.


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