Brake Design Earns International Kudos
A team of U of G engineering students has garnered international recognition and considerable media attention for designing a single-handed lever to operate a bicycle brake. The design was inspired by a nine-year-old girl with a disabled hand.
Andrew Morris, Anina Sakaguchi, Micha Wallace and Katie Bell's innovation was named runner-up at the James Dyson Design Award competition held in New York City April 10.
Earning this top spot also led to the students appearing on Good Morning America and Canada AM and being featured in the Toronto Star.
The team competed against 12 finalists chosen from national competitions in 14 countries. They were judged by Dyson himself, the inventor of one of the world's most famous vacuum cleaners.
“We're proud that our team came up with something so novel,” says Wallace. “It's been so exciting to take part in this international competition and to interact with students from all around the world.”
The Guelph students qualified for the competition after winning a national contest in Toronto in February for up-and-coming inventors.
Dyson's award program recognizes young designers and engineers who demonstrate his design philosophy — the ability to think differently, persist in the face of setbacks and create functional, innovative products that improve the way people live.
The U of G students took on the bicycle-brake project for a fourth-year engineering design course. Their inspiration was nine-year-old Lauren Turner, who is missing part of one hand and was able to use only the back brake of her bicycle.
“We decided to incorporate both brakes into one lever,” says Wallace. “That way she can operate the one brake lever with her full hand and still be able to stop quickly and feel safe on her bike.”
The one-handed braking system was designed to be used on any bike and may ultimately prove useful for other cyclists with disabilities or those who often have to brake with a single hand, such as police officers and bicycle couriers, she says.
“We're in the preliminary patent phase, but we do think it could be affordable to produce and has the potential to help a lot of people.”