Members of Bioactivity at Virginia Tech work on the beginning stages of the Emergency Lift Assist device

This past March, Andy Cohen was caught in one of the worst snowstorms of the year.

The Crozet, Virginia, native, who graduated in May with a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech, was on his way back to Blacksburg from touring graduate schools when his flight from Charlotte to Roanoke was canceled.

He and several other strangers, all anxious to get home, decided to rent a car together — which Cohen says was mistake number one. Mistake number two was deciding to take an alternate route.

“At first, everything was fine, the route was relatively clear. Then the snow started accumulating and accumulating and accumulating, and eventually we were driving in tracks through five inches of snow, so we decided to turn around. That was mistake number three,” Cohen said,…

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