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Ambitious student handcycle project wins international Engineering Impact Award

Published: 7 August 2019
Picture of man using handcycle
Alex Lewis plans to use the handcycle to scale Ethiopia’s tallest mountain

A team of Mechanical Engineering students from the University of Southampton have won a prestigious National Instruments (NI) design award with a power-assisted handcycle for the mobility impaired.

The Group Design Project was honoured in the Engineering Impact Awards’ Student Design Showcase at the NIWeek 2019 conference in Austin, Texas.

The student team designed the solar-powered cycle to enable mobility impaired people to access and enjoy off-road environments, with plans in motion for the vehicle to be used on an extraordinary international expedition.

Fourth year Mechanical Engineering students Christopher Charalambous, Junaid Mahomed, Gayan Kahatota Liyanage, Jin Teh, Guillaume Henry and Thomas Parker, who all graduated in 2018, advanced the project with supervisors Professor Andrew Cruden and Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong.

The team, along with Dr Clint Styles and a number of the School of Engineering technical support staff, will test the cycle with quadruple amputee Alex Lewis as he aims to conquer the tallest mountain in Ethiopa – Ras Dashen – by September 2020.

The NI Student Design Competition challenges engineers to accelerate discovery and build world-changing solutions. Southampton competed against 25 other elite universities this year and were named champions at an Austin Convention Center ceremony ahead of an aquatic drone from Aarhus University in Denmark and a 5G wireless energy transfer device from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea.

An updated handcycle was also recently exhibited at the University of Southampton’s annual Design Show, where a fresh group of students demonstrated a model that is aiming to complete a 12-day circumnavigation of the Gobi Desert.


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