Meet Brunthan, who has recently graduated and is continuing to help with the project in his spare time.
At the beginning of my final year we were given a presentation about the work that Developing Technologies does and the tasks which we would be expected to carry out. I was impressed by the fact that the design work we would be doing would go towards really providing a solution for those who need it the most and I was attracted by the challenges posed in using our design skills to come up with innovative solutions to the problem at hand.
We were tasked to design an intermediate means of transport that would be cheap and rugged to be able to transport goods and people along rough terrain to markets, or hospitals, or wherever was necessary. The vechicle had to have the flexibility of a motorbike, but the safety, comfort and capacity of a 4×4. The final outcome of the project would be to provide a given village with a vehicle that would be easy to run and maintain so that it could be used as a cheap taxi and thus save people from the 2 to 3 day treks to market and thus increase productivity and provide emergency transport in places where hospitals are few and far between.
In that first year, we were a group of 4 students, and thus we worked together on all aspects of design and manufacture. I found that my strengths lay in FEM and computer aided design, as well as presenting our work to the various stakeholders. I taught myself to weld in order to put together the steel frame of the vehicle and I sourced cheap parts for the vehicle.
The biggest challenge was the budget to which we had to stick. I learnt that the best solution is almost never the cheapest option, and hence we had tough discussions as to what we could actually afford and so we changed the design, and changed it again until we came up with innovative solutions and compromised in some areas.
My group produced – in our own time, and after we had completed our degrees – the first prototype. This was not something we were expected to achieve in the first place, but we became really invested in the project and happily worked to build this. The next year, I was asked to present the project to the students, and we managed to get 20 students interested, and as I was lucky enough to be working at City University, I was able to follow the improvement and changes proposed and provide my advice and guidance to the new group of students working on the project. We hope to have a prototype for testing by the end of June and have a vehicle for manufacture and test out in Ghana by the end of next year.
I am involved in the project in my spare time and I hope, if my work at City carries on, to carry on providing any help that I can. I am at the beginning of my engineering career at the moment, and I don’t know where it will take me, but my experiences with Developing Technologies has brought me to the realisation that whatever I do, I want to be doing something that means more to the people I am helping. Something that will mean more to me and something that means more than just a job in engineering.