Temasek Polytechnic students reinvent the wheelchair
Winning solution helps users deal with slopes safely
The inspiration for his team's winning solution came about after he saw a wheelchair-bound woman slide backwards when struggling to go up a slope.
Final-year Temasek Polytechnic (TP) business process and systems engineering student Stanley Chee Chong Wei, 19, and his teammate Felicia Ang Kai Lin, 20, won the top award in the Pre-university/Polytechnic/Institute of Technical Education category of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition last month.
Organised by Samsung, the competition aims to cultivate a culture of problem-solving through science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging young people to come up with solutions to address the issues and problems in Singapore.
The solution had to be on active ageing, healthcare, social integration or the environment.
The pair proposed the use of the Elderly Safe Wheelchair - specially built with custom mechanisms.
Miss Ang told The New Paper: "It is our idea of a low-cost, non-electrical wheelchair with mechanisms that prevent its user from either descending backwards when going up a slope or from losing control when going down a slope."
When the user navigates his way up a slope, a gravity lever and ratchet mechanism kicks in automatically, preventing the wheelchair from sliding backwards. When going downhill, a gravity motion stopper automatically slows down the wheelchair so it does not go out of control.
The students spent four months on the project - two months on research and two on the prototypes before presenting to a panel of five judges.
They tested their prototypes at St Luke's ElderCare Centre in Tampines. Most of the feedback they received was about the weight limit of the wheelchairs.
Mr Chee said: "We struggled to ensure that the wheelchairs can work for people of different sizes because initially, we tested on our friends who are lighter."
Miss Ang added: "Both Stanley and I were afraid to present in front of many people but through the competition, we stepped out of our comfort zone and got through it together."
For their win, the students received $5,000, a one-month internship at Samsung Singapore and a four day-three night study trip to Korea. They will go on the study trip in April and will take on the internship in June, after they graduate from TP.
"We feel a sense of achievement because our idea can help other people so it is worth the challenges and hardship," said Mr Chee.
WHAT: Beyond ‘0’ Level Seminar
WHEN: Saturday, Jan 12: 9am (School of Applied Science and School of Informatics & IT); 11am (School of Business and School of Humanities & Social Sciences); 2pm (School of Engineering and School of Design)
WHO: Students receiving O-level results in 2019 and their parents
WHERE: Temasek Polytechnic Auditorium 1 and 2