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BYU Team wins AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Competition

Paso Nuevo Prosthetics in conjunction with the BYU Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) won first place and $3000 in the International AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Competition with their low-cost prosthetic liner mold design. The submission was created by Hannah Robinson Duffy (Paso Nuevo Prosthetics) and Alexa Lowman (BYU AIChE).

The competition challenges students to apply chemical engineering principles to sustainability issues in the developing world. The BYU Team’s submission “showed great attention to practical detail and desire to make this reproducible anywhere in the world.”

Paso Nuevo Prosthetics is an interdisciplinary engineering team in the Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) class run each year by Randy Lewis, Chemical Engineering Professor, and Terri Bateman, Mechanical Engineering Adjunct Professor. The team consists of the following students: Hannah Robinson Duffy, Cera Gowans, Madison Frei, Daniel Deveraux, Nolan Howes, and Elizabeth Barnett. For two semesters, the Paso Nuevo team partnered with Prótesis Imbabura in Ecuador to engineer a low-cost silicone mold for prosthetic liners to be used on-site at the clinic and could be manufactured from the ground up. A prosthetic liner is a durable sleeve that fits over a residual limb to protect it. The prosthetic fits over the liner and the two parts work together to give mobility to patients.

This project fits an urgent need in the Ecuadorian community where imported liners shipped from the US can reach prices of $250. With a manufacturing process on-site, the clinic can provide care to low-income families who cannot afford the cost of imported liners. The developed technology consists of two parts: a wooden liner mold created using a computer numeric control (CNC) machine and the optimized liner fabrication process including sourcing materials in South America. The mold is expected to have the capability to fabricate hundreds of liners at low costs to patients on-site.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Paso Nuevo Team was unable to travel to Ecuador to implement their project, however, they are excited for the project to continue with next year’s GEO team.

To learn more about the project, check out this video (below) and the BYU AIChE LinkedIn page!