ANGOLA, Ind. – A hands-free, automatic shower system developed by Trine University's
Innovation One and a team of engineering students has improved a Fort Wayne man's
quality of life.
"It will definitely make a big difference to me. I'm nearly 61 years old and for the
first time I can shower myself alone," said Terry Haffner, a Fort Wayne resident and
artist who was born without arms and with partial legs. "In August, I will have been
in my own villa for two years and the shower was the last hurdle as far as making
my home accessible."
The shower, which the development team assigned a working of Haffner Hands-Free Shower
System, features areas to rinse, shampoo hair, wash the body and be dried.
Water temperature and pressure are controlled so Haffner can safely turn it on and
off. The unit is divided into stations that wash various parts of the body progressively.
Haffner moves through the system much like an auto would move through an automatic
The hair-washing station gently scrubs the scalp and a pre-set amount of shampoo flows
out when the station is activated.
The body-washing area has a series of replaceable synthetic mesh loofahs that are
automatically actuated. Water comes from above and below and liquid soap is delivered
by spray. The area facing the scrubbers is padded for safety.
The drying area features warm air and uses less energy than would be used to wash
and dry towels.
"As far as we know, it's the first prototype of its kind," said Tom DeAgostino, i1
director. "It was the Haffner family's idea and i1 and a team of engineering students'
interpretation of the concept." When developing the shower system, the team focused
on safety, functionality and aesthetics, he said.
It took nearly a year for the shower system to be developed and involved Trine's mechanical
and electrical engineering departments and design engineering technology department.
"Having supported many senior design projects with students over the years, I think
it was the most complicated, multidisciplinary project I have seen presented as a
design project," said Tom Haffner, Terry Haffner's twin who is a Charlotte, N.C.,
mechanical engineer and businessman who financed the project. "I think Tom DeAgostino
hit a home run in terms of what they put together. The university delivered beyond
what was expected.
"It's quite remarkable. ... This thing didn't exist in the world. I did patent searches,
reviews; could not find anything like it. It's possibly patentable and Trine University
has the rights to this," Tom Haffner said.
Tom Haffner's idea was mentioned to a Trine team by another brother, Tim Haffner,
a Fort Wayne attorney.
"I recognized the effort Trine was undertaking to try to assist with commercializing
technology and I initiated a conversation and was introduced to DeAgostino," he said.
Tim Haffner is a partner with Faegre Baker Daniels, a Fort Wayne law firm, and in
the course of his employment, "I had the benefit of doing work with Trine and knew
the depth of the engineering department. I explained the concept to them and said
'is this something you have an interest in doing' and they said yes."
The Haffner brothers each said they were glad that i1 took on the project because
another university presented the project to its engineering students, but no student
team chose it.
"We were excited that Trine took us on and accepted our project," Terry Haffner said.
"It was a dream come true to have them say yes. The students were incredible – they're
talented, they're bright, they're warm."
His kudos also extend to the biomechanics laboratory, in which a team lead by Kiwon
Park, Ph.D., recorded Terry Haffner's measurements and movements so the development
group could determine where to position components for optimum accessibility, safety
The shower was installed July 25 by members of Trine's campus operations department
and DeAgostino and student-worker Tim Downing, a senior design engineering technology
major from Bowling Green, Ohio, went to Terry Haffner's home to get feedback and make
Another positive is that the shower system could be modified to help other individuals
with disabilities, Terry Haffner said.
The Trine students who worked on the shower system for their senior design project
are May graduates Kegan Crawford of Sheridan; Ryan Kikkert, Fair Oaks; Rachel McGuinness,
Grand Rapids, Mich.; Chris Propp, Warsaw; and Danielle Reenders, Grand Haven, Mich.
In the U.S., 1.7 million people are living with limb loss, according to amputee-coalition.org.
To partner with i1, contact DeAgostino at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michael Bock,
senior vice president, at email@example.com.
For more information about i1, visit innovation1.org.
Cutline: Terry Haffner shows the new hands-free shower system that was installed in
his Fort Wayne home. Photo by Dean Orewiler, Trine photographer.