Amos G. Winter
Assistant Professor
Director, Global Engineering and Research (GEAR) Lab
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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International Development
 
MIT Mobility Lab
Founder and Director

The mission of the MIT Mobility Lab (M-Lab) is to fill a niche in the mobility aid community; NGOs and manufacturers in developing countries often do not have the time, resources, and skills to develop high-risk/high-payoff projects that would make drastic improvements to mobility products and the lives of disabled people. By collaborating with local manufacturers and experts from the developed world, M-Lab students use their ingenuity and science/engineering skills to produce technology that can mobilize millions of disabled persons worldwide. Furthermore, M-Lab programs teach MIT students how their technological abilities can be used to improve the lives of others.

I started M-Lab in the winter of 2007. Since then, over 20 M-Lab students have traveled abroad to develop mobility technology with local partners. Our faculty supervisor is Prof. Dan Frey of the MIT mechanical engineering department. M-Lab is part of the larger international development D-Lab program at MIT.

To learn more about M-Lab, please visit mlab.mit.edu

M-Lab image
 
Mechanical Principles of Wheelchair Design
MIT PSC Fellowship, Summer 2006

I wrote a manual with Ralf Hotchkiss of Whirlwind Wheelchair International to teach developing country wheelchair manufacturers basic mechanical engineering principles, as to help them generate their own wheelchair designs instead of relying on foreign engineers. The manual uses practical, hands-on examples to demonstrate mechanical concepts. All of the text and images in the document were designed to survive many generations of photocopying without significant degradation. Furthermore, the text in the manual is geared towards people who speak English as a second language. During the summer of 2006 the manual was distributed to wheelchair technicians in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Click here to download the manual

Mechanical principles of wheelchair design
 
Assessment of wheelchair technology in Tanzania
MIT PSC Fellowship, Whirlwind Wheelchair International Intern, Summer 2005

The purpose of this assessment was to determine the current state of wheelchair technology in Tanzania and the factors that prevent Tanzania’s disabled from utilizing wheelchair technology. Ninety-nine interviews of wheelchair and tricycle users, wheelchair and tricycle manufacturers, and advocacy groups for the disabled were conducted throughout Tanzania during the summer of 2005. Technical issues identified included: tricycles are more popular and much less expensive than wheelchairs; most disabled people rely on donations to buy a mobility aid; production costs can be decreased by using bicycle components and outsourcing tasks; bicycle components are available in rural areas and are attractive for use in wheelchairs; and donated wheelchairs are often irresponsibly distributed and poorly designed for their operating environment. The assessment was conducted under the supervision of the Tanzania Training Center for Orthopedic Technologists and Whirlwind Wheelchair International.

Download the full report here

Download a condensed journal article of the report here

TZ wheelchair assessment
 
 
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