First-year engineering students design prosthetic hiking foot and take first place at Design Expo
Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science is known for its integrated approach to education and research. One of these innovative programs, Living With the Lab, gives first-year engineering students an introduction to what it’s like to study at Louisiana Tech.
This six-hour course sequence allows students to complete multiple projects throughout the year and ends with a group project where first year students are encouraged to meet a need with a design solution. Andrew Tucker, Carter Ledbetter and Matthew English are a group of the many participating students, and their design is called “Pro-Toe-Type”.
The project is focused on designing a prosthetic leg to make hiking more accessible to amputees, as the team said they believe hiking is something everyone should have the chance to do.
“There is nothing quite like going up a hill and looking into the distance and seeing the beautiful scenery,” English said. “But if you were born without a limb or if you have an amputated limb, you don’t really have the same opportunities.”
One obstacle for hikers with prosthetic legs is that the incline of the hiking terrain as well as the design of the prostheses can make it more difficult to access and navigate the trails.
“Prostheses these days, they don’t really have any rotation, or hardly any at all, so it’s very difficult for people with prostheses to hike,” English said. “We’re trying to get it to where the angle of the foot matches the angle of the ground.”
The design project is the culmination of programming and working with sensors that “Living With the Lab” teaches throughout the first year of Tech’s engineering program. The program gives students the opportunity to apply the fundamentals of engineering and teaches them how to work in a team.
Dr. Krystal Corbett, First Year Engineering Programs Coordinator, is the “Pro-Toe-Type” group guide for the design project. The students said that helping her helped them through the creative process.
“I think she really enjoys what she’s doing,” Tucker said. “And so that kind of help – someone who is passionate about it, is ready to help you, and wants you to be successful.”
Corbett said she encourages students to come up with any idea they want to make so that they are passionate about it. This new generation of engineering students have a keen interest in helping others, and she said the “Pro-Toe-Type” group is an example of this desire to make a difference.
“I think it’s a really cool project,” Corbett said. “I see a lot of students of this generation who are very keen on improving the quality of life for all and who have a human touch in their engineering and design. This group really ran with this idea. “
An exhibition was recently organized for all the students to present their design projects. An award ceremony followed and the “Pro-Toe-Type” design won first place overall.
“I feel honored because there were a lot of great ideas at the first year expo, but I also feel very proud of my team and what we have accomplished,” said English. “At first it seemed like an idea.
“After seeing it work, with people recognizing the uniqueness of the project and receiving the award, it inspires me to solve even more problems to improve the lives of others and provide more opportunities for others.
This story is from Madison Remrey, a communications student.