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The University of Southampton

Wheelchair adventurers reach Ethiopia’s highest peak on student handcycle

Published: 16 October 2019
Kids running with new wheel chair
The Wild Wheelchairs Project expedition endured an epic journey to scale the heights of Ras Dashen

A power-assisted handcycle designed by engineering students from the University of Southampton has scaled one of Africa’s tallest mountains in a gruelling charity expedition.

Wheelchair users Alex Lewis and Emebet Allie Deress reached the 4,550-metre summit of Ethiopia’s Ras Dashen following a demanding journey of several days including rough terrain and torrential rain.

The unique handcycle was built as part of a Group Design Project. Fourth year Mechanical Engineering students Christopher Charalambous, Junaid Mahomed, Gayan Kahatota Liyanage, Jin Teh, Guillaume Henry and Tom Parker, who all graduated in 2018, designed the cycle with supervisors Professor Andrew Cruden and Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong.

Tom was part of the expedition support team in Ethiopia, alongside Southampton Wind Tunnell Manager Dr David Marshall. The University’s Dr Clint Styles and a number of engineering technical staff helped test the cycle in the UK before the international challenge.

The Wild Wheelchairs Project is raising money for new wheelchair manufacturing facilities in Ethiopia, which will transform the lives of hundreds of disabled people living in the eastern African nation.

Read the full story on the main news page.

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