NFPA Members Help Students to Lift 400 Pounds

When I was a kid, I remember getting really excited about building forts. Summer or winter, cardboard or snow, it didn’t matter. I was all about it and couldn’t stop thinking about the next time I got to create that space with my friends.

I was reminded of this when I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from Tony DeRose, a senior scientist and lead of the Research Group at Pixar Animation Studios. He is mentoring a group of high school students from the Bay School of San Francisco. They are building a pneumatically-powered exoskeleton that a user can wear to allow them to lift 400 pounds with little or no effort. They plan to debut the exoskeleton at Bay Area Maker Faire in May 2015.

Ajax ExosuitThis group of students is really excited and dedicated to their project. What they needed was a little help to complete it. I contacted NFPA members that manufacture pneumatic components and asked for some help from them in the form of donated components.

What I received was a tremendous response from NFPA members. Enfield Technologies, Clippard, Camozzi Pneumatics, Master Pneumatic-Detroit, Inc., and Firestone Industrial Products Co. were all willing to help. Thanks to these members, this group of students is on track to debut their exoskeleton at Maker Faire.

More information about this project can be found at In particular that page has a video that describes the project, their goals, and progress thus far.

Tony told me that they hope this project inspires other young students to consider careers in engineering. This is the latest in a series of projects that they have undertaken, including a pneumatically actuated fire-breathing dragon and a full-motion flight simulator based on the TV series Battlestar Galactica. A summary of their past projects can be found here.

I think we all have something that gets us really excited. Thanks go out to the NFPA members for helping this group of students keep this excitement going.

To help support this project financially, please contact Lynn Beyer at or (414) 778-3364.

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