‘Really cool’: Controller challenge met | News, Sports, Jobs

WNY P-TECH student Tyler Mathews of Fredonia and Steve Myers of Applied Industrial Technologies of Falconer.

When Steve Myers’ stepson was in a motorcycle accident a little over a year ago, his last concern was to wonder whether he’d ever be able to play video games again.

Thankfully, his stepson, Bryce Knapp, a Marine stationed in Camp Pendleton, Calif., is on the road to recovery; however, he’ll continue to do so without full use of his left arm.

“He was in a very bad motorcycle accident and basically lost the use of his left arm from the shoulder down,” Myers said. “Now, one of his favorite things is playing Xbox with his brother, Brayden, who is back home with us.”

After losing the function of his left hand, the brothers have been unable to play online games with each other, but hopefully, that’s about to change with some help from WNY P-TECH student Tyler Mathews of Fredonia.

“Brayden was looking online and found a design for an accessible controller and asked if there was some way to make this happen,” Myers said. “My first thought was P-TECH because they do all sorts of cool stuff here.”

Submitted photos
Pictured above is a 3-D printed Xbox controller mount that allows a player to play video games with one hand.

When Myers approached P-TECH about the project, William Smock, principal of WNY P-TECH in Dunkirk, identified Mathews as someone who would accept the challenge.

“Tyler Mathews has always been our liaison for special projects like this,” Smock said. “Tyler is always caught up on his work and goes beyond what anybody ever asks of them. He’ll pull other students on to help with projects like this, but for the most part, he’s like a one-person machine.”

Utilizing the open-sourced design, Mathews began 3-D printing the parts for the controller modification.

“I put the model into a slicing software which allows me to take this model down to a code that the printer can read,” he said. “Then all I had to do was reassemble it. So there were pins in the side that you needed for a hinge. So I just put some welding wire in there, and then I saw a few spots that needed a strap. So I made a strap out of some velcro. The velcro allows someone to tie the controller to their wrist or their thigh.”

The prototype was a success, but Mathews has already identified some areas that can be improved, including a reimagined analog lock design to keep the device secure during longer video gaming sessions.

“I think a project like this embodies what we do here at P-TECH,” Smock said. “Community partners, businesses, and people just looking for help with something can come to us. We can find a solution and provide a free service to people to make a project or an idea come to life.”

Tyler has also designed high-quality wall-mounted key holders for the P-TECH school and worked on manufactured measuring cups for volume weight for Wells in Dunkirk.

“These are all the enriching activities that we love doing here because this is the experiential learning that can sometimes be missing in a traditional high school environment,” Smock said.

“Being a part of these projects is really cool,” Mathews added. “I enjoy making things and designing things that are useful.”

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