Fylde apprentices design devices to aid disabled

BAE Systems apprentices with their wheelchair carrying system
BAE Systems apprentices with their wheelchair carrying system
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Young aircraft apprentices have been turning their talents to making devices to help disabled people.

Two teams of apprentices from BAE Systems at Warton and Samlesbury took on others from all over the country in an Innovation Challenge.

Using their engineering and project management skills, apprentices were tasked with designing and developing technologies in response to challenges set by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham charity.

They had to design either a grabber device to help patients with limited mobility to pick up out-of-reach objects, or a ‘wheelchair load-carrying system’ to enable wheelchair users to carry personal objects and medical items about with them in a safe and practical way.

All the teams were given nine months to plan, design, create and test their end products, which they presented to a panel of judges and engineering experts.

The two teams from Warton were Team Elevation which tackled the grabber, and Team Abiliti which designed the load carrier for wheelchairs.

Team Abiliti liaised with staff and patients at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation centre in Preston and worked alongside former soldier Rick Clement, of Blackpool, who lost both legs when he stepped on a roadside bomb in 2010.

Team Elevation designed its ‘Exo-grab’ to a strict budget and incorporated state-of-the-art 3D-printed components, saving both time and money.

Sam Jones of Team Elevation, said:“The Apprentice Innovation Challenge was without doubt hard work; however it is by far one of the most rewarding things I and my teammates have ever done.”

Alex Monkiewicz of Team Abiliti added: “We wanted to deliver beyond the brief and in doing so have created a solution that can go through life with these patients.

“After meeting with people like Rick Clement, it inspired us even more and really changed why we were doing it; it wasn’t to win the competition, it was to help.”