A team that has designed a mobile clinic to make 3D-printed prosthetics from recycled plastics has won the inaugural championship of the World’s Challenge Challenge, which took place this week at Western University in London, Canada.
Ten student teams from six countries gathered for the international pitch competition and a chance at seed money to bring their world-changing ideas to life. Taking part were teams from Hong Kong University, University at Buffalo, Monash University (Australia), University of Otago (New Zealand) and Radboud University (Netherlands); and Canadian teams from University of Waterloo, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Western University and Dalhousie University.
The trio of Alicia Roy, Robyn Follett and Danielle Skuy from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, will share in the $30,000 top prize. They plan to start their pilot project in Uganda, where demand for prosthetic limbs is high and accessibility to health care is low.
The team brought with them a sample of a lower-leg prosthetic, made of recycled plastic and created with a 3D printer in about five hours at a cost of about $400. Using conventional technology, a custom-fit prosthesis would take at least 10 days to make and cost about $4,000 – out of reach for all but a very few people in developing countries. Called Total Dimension Prosthetics, the team would help amputees get lightweight and affordable limbs. The team would train women prosthetists in particular to help reduce inequities caused by gender, disability and economic disparity.
Second-place winner is a team from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, with a plan to reduce plastics waste in Indonesia. Community-based crews would gather ubiquitous plastics littering the beaches and recycle the litter into re-useable ice packs, which would be chilled in solar-powered freezers. The ice packs would then be used on fishing boats instead of disposable plastic bags to keep their catch fresh, and that in turn would reduce plastic waste on beaches. The team of Raoul Luijten, Stef Pieter Op den Kamp and Nila Patty receives $15,000 to start its project.
Each team advanced to the finals at Western after having won competitions at their universities. Other ideas included anti-poaching technology in Africa, teaching-and-learning partnerships in developing countries, eyeglass recycling, vertical farming and cricket powder as a substitute for meat protein.
The event reinforced the ideal that the best young minds can both compete and co-operate as global citizens, said Western University President Amit Chakma.
“This is the kind of ingenuity and collaboration that the world needs now more than ever. As an academic community, and indeed as a global community we must continue to create bridges between disciplines, between cultures and between different regions of our world,” Chakma said.
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