The first ever Engineering for Access award has announced the shortlist for 2019; offering one winner the chance to have their life-changing design, for people living with disabilities, made into a prototype – plus a cash prize.
Leading personal injury firm Claims.co.uk, in association with product design experts Bang Creations , set up the award to help the brightest engineers. The award tasks undergraduate to come up with a design to change the lives of people living with disabilities – and this years shortlist did not disappoint.
From innovative wheelchair designs built for people living with spinal cord issues to a pillowcase that can detect seizures; meet the shortlisted entrants and their designs!
Kristen Tapping – Moveo wheelchair
Kristen Tapping, 36, an undergraduate Product Design student at London South Bank University, entered the award with an already award-winning design that reimagines the wheelchair in a way that makes the wheel more hygienic. You can read more about her design and how it will specifically help those living with spinal cord issues on her entry page here.
Kristen, who spent her earlier years in France before moving to the UK to further her studies, said that she has always had a keen interest in helping those in need who might not be in a position to help themselves. When asked how she felt about being shortlisted in Engineering for Access, Kirsten replied:
“Very excited! Sometimes you get briefs asking to design superficial items that really don´t have much impact.
This competition is geared towards improving the lives of people with disabilities which requires lots of research, design thinking and engineering innovation. Being shortlisted for this competition means my concept at least came close to fulfilling those demands.”
Andrew Barker – All terrain wheelchair
Andrew Barker, 20, an undergraduate Robotics student at Staffordshire University, entered the award with a design that reimagines the standard wheelchair to include wheels that will enable users to navigate tricky terrains such as kerbs, as well as including gadgets on the arms of the chair. You can view his design here.
Andrew, who grew up in Manchester before moving to Staffordshire to further his studies, said that he created the design with a friend in mind who suffers with mobility issues. When asked how he felt about being shortlisted in Engineering for Access, Andrew replied:
“Very happy and anxious at the same time. I chose to do my design for physically disabled people because I think the general wheelchair can be revisited to be more helpful and useful for physically disabled people.
I have a friend back home who would definitely benefit from my concept because he can’t walk far and needs a wheelchair or mobility scooter.”
Zachary Price – Text to sign system
Zachary Price, 24, an undergraduate Computer Science student at Plymouth University, entered the award with a design that will remove the language barrier between deaf people and those who don’t understand sign language. You can view his design here.
The system aims to eliminate the language barrier between the deaf by interpreting sign language into a readable format for people who don’t understand it.
Zachary, who grew up in Devon before moving down the road to Plymouth to further his studies, said that he created the design following a conversation with a friend who said that they struggled to communicate with non-deaf people.
“I had a friend who mentioned how it was hard to communicate with people who are unable to understand sign language, so like google translate, this will work anywhere at any time to do the hard work, and remove the language barrier for those restricted to sign language as their primary form of communication.”
Jamie Williams – a Steering wheel for people living with Alzheimer’s
Jamie Williams, 21, an undergraduate Computer Design student at Plymouth University, entered the award with a design that reimagines the standard steering wheel to incorporate gadgets that will make driving easier for arthritic hands. You can view his design here.
The wheel incorporates the buttons and levers often found on the centre console of most cars into the main body of the wheel, to limit the time that drivers have their hands away from it. It also includes a screen that would be equipped with satellite navigation and digital radio functionality.
Jamie, who grew up in Cornwall before moving down the road to Plymouth to further his studies, said that he created the design with elderly friends in mind who struggle with driving as a result of arthritis. When asked how he felt about being shortlisted in Engineering for Access, Andrew replied:
“I feel over the moon, I never thought that it would come close to shortlisting, I thought that it was lacking a lot of detail. Just to get this far is a big achievement for me and I would be very happy with just the shortlisting.
It was designed with the help of elderly friends who wanted a steering wheel that better suited their grips while suffering from arthritis and poor finger dexterity. I believed that if it helped even one person that that would make all the hard work designing it very worthwhile.”
Alfred Wilmot – Wheelchair-mounted robotic arm
Alfred Wilmot, 23, studies Robotics at University of Plymouth but spent his teenage years in Iceland before moving back to the UK for his studies. Outside of his studies, Alfred is a keen powerlifter and a coffee enthusiast and has even found time to co-found his own start-up business, Access Robotics LTD. He designed a robotic arm designed to be mounted on a wheelchair to help enable those suffering from mobility issues. You can view Alfred’s idea here.
Alfred enjoys the challenge of creating products and finding express solutions that have a meaningful impact on others. His design was partially inspired by his elderly father, who while not disabled, does suffer from mobility issues, and Alfred could see the impact that assistive medical equipment had on his father’s life.
When asked how he felt about being shortlisted in Engineering for Access, Alfred replied “pleasantly surprised!”
“I want to maximise the chances of developing a viable product that will benefit people. The prize money would go towards the feasibility study of the Wheelchair-Mounted Robotic Arm project that is being orchestrated via a humble start-up that I co-founded”
Cameron Lyon – Fibreoptic sensor pillow to detect seizures
Cameron, 20, is an undergraduate Biomedical Engineering student at Nottingham Trent University. Cameron’s partner’s brother suffers from epilepsy, which made him passionate to create an idea to help those with the condition. The idea is a nighttime detection of seizures with the use of fibre optic sensors/fabric pressure sensors woven into a pillowcase, which you can view here.
The main benefit of the system is that is is a cost-effective and portable detection system that will free the user to be able to sleep in other beds. Another key feature is that as the data is collected it can time how long and how often the seizures are, allowing doctors to review how effective the treatment is.
Cameron expresses how honoured he is to be nominated for the award, as it not only gives recognition for his work but that it could give him or someone else the chance to develop his idea further, making it one step closer to helping those with seizures.
“I have always had a fascination with building and fixing problems but have always had a passion of helping people which lead me to biomedical which is the best fusion of fixing problems that improve the quality of people’s lives massively.
Having this specific idea to help people with epilepsy being put forward in this competition, means that this design is one step closer to helping those with seizures. It is not only a massive honour to be recognized for the work I have done but is also reflective of how much I have learned in the last two years of university.”
Engineering for Access, an annual award in its first year, is run by Claims.co.uk and in association with Bang Creations. The award was designed to give Engineering students an opportunity to be creative and have their designs come to life, in a bid to improve their careers. Alongside that, Claims.co.uk has close partnerships with a number of national charities and understand the impact of lifelong disabilities. Engineering for Access recognises the need for innovation in accessibility.
Good luck to all. The winner will be announced on the 1st April at claims.co.uk