04 Jun 2008 00:00:00.000
A group of students from The University of Nottingham have designed an off-road wheelchair to help disabled people cope with rough terrain in developing countries.
Built from bicycle parts and designed to be both cheap and suited to the off-road conditions of Africa the 'alternative technology' wheelchair has been created by a group of 4th year engineering students.
The wheelchair will be seen for the first time this Thursday 5 June 2008 at an annual exhibition of Year 4 mechanical engineering undergraduate group projects. The exhibition is being held at the Pope Building, Faculty of Engineering, on University Park.
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Although many wheelchairs are donated to developing countries their ability to cope with rough ground and uneven tracks is limited.
Equipped with mountain-bike deep tread tyres, the 'alternative technology' wheelchair has been designed with front driven wheels and a small wheel at the back to stop it tipping backwards. This design gives the wheelchair extra pushing-power to improve manoeuvrability over mud and sand.
The project has been led by Dr Mike Clifford. He said: "Many wheelchairs are donated by charities for use in developing countries with the best of intentions, but the conditions they face are very different from in the UK. However, this wheelchair is designed with Africa in mind."
Every year the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering stages an exhibition of its 4th year group projects. It is a chance for staff to study the results in more detail as part of the student's final assessment before graduation in July. The event creates so much interest that for the first time the exhibition has been opened up to invited guests.
Among the other innovative designs will be a small scale wind mill "€” developed in collaboration with a Chilean inventor whose dream is to irrigate the Atacama desert by wind powered water pumps, this project questions the established mill designs and searches for new ideas for producing mills in developing countries. Also on show - a formula student racing car; a motor bike simulator to improve racing performance; a turbine blade for small sustainable wind turbines; a golf ball firing machine; a household rubbish compactor for recyclable plastic bottles and a specialist medical fibre which includes a suction grab and hold device.
Professor Tom Hyde, Head of the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering said: "We are very proud of the high standard achieved and have decided to open our exhibition to external guests this year so that industrialists can see the projects and talk to the graduating students."
This exhibition will be the only time the students will be available for interviews. The exhibition begins at 9.30am and closes at 3.30pm.
You can see more of the 'alternative technology' wheelchair at:
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Notes to Editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation - School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.