THEIR prototype may have won two big awards for a hands-free crutch but the young brains behind this innovative project are determined to make it even better.
The Murrumba State Secondary College team — consisting of Year 9 students Alex Costello, Declan Smith, Orrin Hatch and Tyler Ozdowski — is refining the design in the hope of being able to sell it to a manufacturer and helping people fighting traditional crutches.
Their original prototype won August's Moreton Bay Stem Fest, and November's Think2Be Youth Innovation Excellence Award for Business Excellence and Innovation in the Moreton Bay region.
The students, since Year 7 all part of the school 's Engineering Excellence Program, had been working on designs when team leader Orrin fractured his foot and learned how difficult it was to use crutches.
“My armpits hurt and my right leg wanted to give out,” Orrin says. “I ended up walking around school with one crutch because two was the worst. If we can get this out to the public it would change the lives of some people.”
The importance of exploring and developing ideas was one of the main lessons the boys learned from the project.
They use computer software and 3D printing to improve design, adding new materials to strengthen and make the spring mechanism more comfortable.
“We’re taking it to a new level,” Tyler says.
They are hoping to get a final working prototype by term 3. Compared to the current cost of buying or hiring crutches, Tyler says they want it to be low cost for end user. They 'd like to see it priced under $100 “One of our design criteria is that it has to be cheap and can be used for multiple purposes,” he says
Whatever the result, the boys will learn from the experience in the hope that it will prepare them for aeronautical and mechanical engineering careers, at NASA or Lockheed Martin, electrical engineering and even film and design.
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