27 / March / 2019

One small step is giant leap in Innovation


Posted 27 March 2019

One small step is giant leap in innovation 

By Kylie Knight - Moreton Life 

Their prototype for a hands-free crutch may have won them two big awards, but the brains behind this innovation project are determined to make it even better. 

The team from Murrumba State Secondary College - comprised of Year 9 students Alex Costello, Declan Smith, Orrin Hatch and Tyler Ozdowski - is refining the design in the hope they can sell it to a manufacturer and help people struggling with traditional crutches. 

Their original prototype won Moreton Bay Stem Fest in August and a Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Award in the Think2Be Youth Innovation Excellence category in November. 

The boys, all part of the school's Engineering Excellence Program since Year 7, had been working on designs when team member Orrin broke his foot and discovered how difficult it was to use crutches. 

"My armpits hurt and my right leg wanted to give out," Orrin says. "I ended up walking around school with one crutch because two was the worst. If we can get this out to the public it would change the lives of some people."

One of the biggest lessons the boys learnt from the project was the value of experimenting and refining ideas. 

They're using computer software and 3D printing to improve the design and will incorporate new materials to enhance the spring system and make it more comfortable. 

"We're taking it to a new level," Tyler says.

They hope to have a final working prototype by term 3. Tyler says they want it to be low cost for the end use in comparison to the present cost of buying or hiring crutches. They would like to see it priced below $100. 

"One of our design criteria is that it has to be cheap and can be used for multiple purposes," he says.

Whatever the outcome, the boys will learn from the experience in the hope it will prepare them for careers in aeronautical and mechanical engineering, at NASA or Lockheed Martin, electrical engineering and even film and design.