For their senior project, five teams at the University of Maine created tricycles for landmine victims in Mozambique. These 27 students were part of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program and had to complete their Capstone senior project as one of their last assignments. The year-long project was directed by professor Herb Crosby in conjunction with Coreplan CEO Kim Keeley and Landmine Victim Mobility Vehicle Project. It was not only an educational and fun experience for the students, but it helped hundreds of landmine victims as well.
This South African country has been devastated by years of civil war. Although they are finally at peace, there is still an estimated 3 million landmines scattered across the land, causing an unsettling environment. Innocent people continually fall victim to these landmines and suffer injuries including the loss of limbs. Because of its impoverished state many of the innocent victims can not afford prosthetic limbs. Between that and the unpaved and poor conditions of the roads, transportation is a nightmare for injured parties. Normal wheelchairs are not ideal for the terrain of Mozambique which is why Keeley is working with the University of Maine to create a tricycle for better means of transportation.
The South African insurance company, Core Plan International, backed the competition. With their support and help the winning design would be patented and produced for the people of Mozambique. CEO, Kim Keeley decided that the final design will probably incorporate different aspects of each team’s prototype.
Each five to six person team had to create a prototype of a hand powered tricycle wheelchair for the landmine victims. At the end of their six month journey, each team presented their design on Maine Day. This is a day that all faculty and students have off in order to clean up the campus and participate in community service events. What a perfect time to show off some coolly designed tricycles while cruising around campus.
Each team had different ideas of what would be the most cost efficient and the most ideal to ride in. Some of the specific qualifications the product had to have were: accessible to double amputee, effective breaking, easy steering, stable on hilly and uneven terrain, under $200 to create, and able to carry 5 gallon pail of cargo. While the Green team chose to use bamboo with the cargo area in the front, other teams used metals with the cargo in the back.
The MET students really enjoyed themselves while working on this project. Even though the Blue Team officially won (see the video below), all the designs were terrific and everyone involved truly won. Many of them felt that it was the cherry to their ice cream because they were able to use every skill they had learned throughout the year collectively in one project, as well as directly impacting a population in need. It definitely put their education to the test, but the outcome was extraordinary and exponentially beneficial.