9 May 2017

For a fourth year running, UCL Engineering teamed up with the James Dyson Foundation to create an innovative summer school that would challenge young people from across the UK on a real-world engineering challenge, to redesign the wheelchair for the modern age. This programme gave students the opportunity to get to grips with what engineering really is and what engineers actually do. The students chosen from hundreds of applicants, rose to the challenge and fully engaged with this hands-on and multi-disciplinary real world engineering project, exploring and experimenting with a wide variety of materials, tools and technologies while finding out about the wide range of careers and degrees in engineering.

The UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences will be partnering for a third year with the James Dyson Foundation to bring a week-long summer school to completely redesign the wheelchair. The aim of the UCL Engineering James Dyson Foundation Design Summer School is to engage and enthuse students to design a completely new wheelchair.

There are 1.4 million wheelchair users in England and this number will rise in line with a growing and ageing population. Many wheelchair users face immense difficulties in getting around the built environment and many will develop shoulder and wrist injuries from pushing their wheelchairs. It has been shown that smoother push forces of lower magnitude prevent injury to the shoulders and wrists of wheelchair users. However, the current interaction between the world we have built and the wheelchairs we have designed mean that wheelchair users frequently need to employ short sharp pushes of high magnitude to get around. The wheelchair is also inherently inefficient in design; many have a folding frame which absorb energy, making pushing them even more difficult and wheelchairs with a rigid frame are often only available to the most able of wheelchair users.

The students will learn about the design process, basic biomechanics of wheelchair propulsion and ways to measure the efficiency of wheelchair propulsion. They will have the opportunity to:

  • Speak with wheelchair users about what they like, love and hate about their wheelchair journeys.
  • Work with researchers from UCL who are developing sensors to measure how difficult pushing a wheelchair is
  • Work on real wheelchair user scenarios and case studies
  • Design and build a new wheelchair or improve an existing wheelchair
  • Prove their design has improved efficiency of wheelchair pushing
  • Learn to measure biomechanical parameters with ENGduino
  • Build and prototype a 3D model of their idea
  • Learn from award-winning engineers, designers, medical experts as well as wheelchair users

Split in teams, students will be tasked to build and prototype models of their wheelchair idea, testing and evaluating their designs. Teams will be encouraged to explore, learn and combine a wide range of materials and technologies, transforming UCL Engineering labs and technical workspaces into their own open collaborative space. They will be invited to the Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA) and learn how to code measuring biomechanical parameters at Computer Science ENGduino labs.

The summer school will be led by Dr Catherine Holloway (UCL CEGE, Director of the BIG@PAMELA Research Group), with experts and engineers from UCL Engineering, Dyson, James Dyson Foundation, NHS, BackUP Trust, WizzKidz and UCL Medical Sciences.

To see photos from the previous JDF UCL Summer Schools visit UCL Engineering Flickr and the Summer School’s Facebook page

We will be offering places on the summer school to 20 Year 12 students, 10 girls and 10 boys studying STEM subjects with an interest in engineering.

Who can attend: enthusiastic 16-18 year old students from schools across the UK who enjoy making things, designing products and solving problems.

When: Monday 17th July to Friday 21st July 2017; 10am – 4pm

Where: UCL Bloomsbury main campus

If you are interested in attending or would like more info then please email Elpida Makrygianni at ku.ca1537789421.lcu@1537789421sinna1537789421yirka1537789421m.e1537789421