Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2020

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Systems Engineering-BS




Dr. Elena Caruthers

First Committee Member

Dr. Elena Caruthers

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michael Hudoba

Third Committee Member

Dr. John Tansey


Adjustable Staircase, Designing A Staircase, Staircase of Varying Heights, Transportable Staircase

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Mechanical Engineering | Mechanics of Materials | Structural Materials | Systems Engineering


People climb stairs every day, whether it is at work, a store, or at home; however, there are populations such as people who are elderly, with pathologies, with Parkinson’s disease, or have suffered from a stroke that see climbing the stairs as a challenging task and it decreases their mobility and quality of life. Factors such as muscle weakness, strategy, and balance have been previously investigated in these populations during stair climbing. However, few studies have researched how stair climb ability, balance, and perception of difficulty are influenced by step height. The objective of this thesis is to design a staircase that can be adjustable and transportable so that the effect of step height on balance and perception of the difficulty of the task in older and pathological populations can be investigated for various stair climbing strategies to help develop safe strategies for climbing stairs of various heights. The staircase is required to have 5 steps so that a full stair gait cycle could be observed; the steps need to be able to adjust to heights that fall within the American Disability Act guidelines, and the staircase needs to have the capability of being easily transported to different locations. Using a decision matrix, the options that best fit the needs of the project were having a modified scissor lift platform and steps resembling a step ladder. Once these ideas were settled on, the rest of the work was making the two components cohesive and function in a manner that was needed to meet the design requirements. There are some aspects that still need to be added such as a handrail and there are recommendations on a different mechanism to attach the platform and the steps to each other. Overall, the effect of this project has laid the groundwork for being able to construct a functional adjustable and transportable staircase.