[This story was amended after it was published to reflect the fact that it is UC Berkeley, not Berkeley Bionics, which is responsible for the exoskeleton being used by student Austin Whitney.]

UC Berkeley has made possible an awe-inspiring moment for Cal student Austin Whitney who, this Saturday, will stand up and walk at his graduation ceremomy, despite having been a paraplegic since 2007 when his spinal cord was severed in a car accident.

“Ask anybody in a wheelchair; ask what it would mean to once again stand and shake someone’s hand while facing them at eye level,” Whitney, 22, a double major in history and political science told UC Berkeley News Center. “It will be surreal, like a dream.”

The technology that has given Whitney and other wheelchair-bound people the ability to stand are sophisticated exoskeletons developed by mechanical engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni and his team of Cal grad students.

For Whitney, the journey from his horrific car accident to the moment at Berkeley’s 2011 Commencement when he will rise out of his wheelchair, walk to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and shake his hand, has been a long one. Read the full story at UC Berkeley News Center

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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2 Comments

  1.  I wish my dad were alive; this would have been amazing. He was paralyzed in his early 20’s. I always wanted to see him walk… this is very personal and touching for me. So happy for this guy!!