Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Undergraduate research makes a difference for amputees

Published: 14 April 2016
Joshua collecting his award
Joshua collecting his award

Original research by University of Southampton students is changing the world.


BEng graduate Joshua Steer has won a national prize for the results of project work he carried out in his third year on improving artificial limbs for amputees. He used computational modelling to see how prostheses could be made more comfortable for people who have had a leg amputated beneath the knee and was presented with the Institute for Mechanical Engineering (IMechE) Vicon Award in recognition of his outstanding work so far in biomedical engineering. Joshua is now studying for a PhD in the subject at Southampton.

“Right from the start of my degree I became interested in how engineering can improve the lives of amputees,” he explains. “I completed a ten week summer internship at the University examining the issues involved with Dr Alex Dickinson from Engineering and the Environment and Dr Peter Worsley from Health Sciences. It involved researching how to make prostheses fit better by scanning plaster casts of limbs from patients at a clinic in Portsmouth, building a statistical model-based software tool and analysing the data. Then I wrote up my results for my third year individual project. The aim is for these techniques to be used by prosthetists in order to assist them design sockets leading to a more comfortable fit. It’s very worthwhile to know that my degree work might go on to have real world applications.”

Joshua reached the final competition shortlist of three students by writing an abstract of his research, then presented his work to the judges and answered their questions. His £250 prize was awarded at a ceremony at the IMechE in London.

“Biomedical engineering offers many opportunities for students to use their skills to improve the quality of life for many people. It is very rewarding to make a contribution in helping people who have had limbs amputated to achieve their full potential,” adds Joshua.

His final year project was jointly supervised by Dr Dickinson and Dr Worsley, who researches pressure sores caused by prostheses. Joshua has been inspired to carry on with this multidisciplinary project at postgraduate level and is now working with an external company for his PhD, investigating how to further improve the fit and comfort of artificial limbs.

Find out about undergraduate courses and postgraduate research at Southampton

Privacy Settings