"This in many ways is like a moon launch. When the countdown reaches zero, we hit the stage."Until now, the exoskeletons developed in Kazerooni's lab have been elaborately engineered test pieces. "All we've been doing is making really expensive machines," Kazerooni says. "We're making Porsches." For the current project, Kazerooni challenged the students to invent the Honda of exoskeletons, a bare-bones device that would cost $15,000 or less, not $100,000 or more. Only at that price, he says, will disabled people (and their insurance companies) be able to afford them. Since the project began in January 2009, it has become a steadily consuming obsession for Kazerooni's students, who powered themselves through 17-hour days with caffeine, candy bars and pirated MP3s. In the month before graduation, most of the students took up unofficial residence in the lab. "This in many ways is like a moon launch," McKinley says. "When the countdown reaches zero, we hit that stage."