Rehabilitation Engineering Program | Spotlight

CSULA’s prototype to propel water transportation technology

Rehabilitation engineering team attends inaugural Invent for Humanity fair in Geneva

Inside the lab

Rehabilitation engineering is a specialized area of science that provides technological solutions for the disabled, using engineering principles and practices.

For more than a decade, Samuel Lansdsberger—a professor of mechanical engineering and kinesiology at Cal State L.A.—has been motivating CSULA students to create and design accessible technology as service-learning projects.

Currently, there are numerous works in progress in the rehabilitation engineering lab.

L-r: Kalind Carpenter and Ben Liu.

For example, mechanical engineering students Kalind Carpenter and Ben Liu (pictured above, l-r) are collaborating with the VA Long Beach Gait Lab to build a robot to validate measurements of how amputees and others with disabilities walk.

“This will potentially lead to improved educational methods to train orthotists, prosthetists and physical therapists,” said Professor Landsberger.

L-r: Desiree Rose and Amy Luarin.

Desiree Rose and Amy Laurin (pictured above, l-r) are creating an accessible pontoon to improve stability in row boats for disabled individuals, while Reymundo Ortiz, Marco Jakoda and Andrew Inderabudhi (pictured below, l-r) are developing a walker system with steering and brakes for exercise and mobility.

L-r: Reymundo Ortiz, Marco Jakoda and Andrew Inderabudhi.

“Our client, Marisol, is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has difficulty walking upright,” said Jakoda, whose interest is in working with projects that impact the community. “Our focus is to create a new breaking system, improve the alignment of the back support for proper posture, and implement a more comfortable steering mechanism.”

Balancing heavy containers of water precariously on their heads, women and children in poor countries often have to walk several miles in the scorching sun to get back to their villages, let alone worry if their precious cargo is even safe to drink.

Pictured: Professor Samuel Landsberger and mechanical engineering students.
L-r: CSULA’s mechanical engineering majors Thomas Hurst and Majed Alsubiei, along with Professor Samuel Landsberger, present the original Q Drum and its re-engineered prototype.

Water is essential to life, but about 1.1 billion people worldwide live without access to safe and clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization.

To help, Cal State L.A., in collaboration with Invent for Humanity, is developing a more economic water transportation prototype based on the Q Drum system. The Q Drum is a plastic container manufactured in South Africa that can simply roll and transport clean and potable water by pulling an attached rope.

“Women and children in developing countries are typically responsible for providing water for household use. They often suffer lifelong neck or spinal injuries due to carrying large canisters of water atop of their heads over far distances,” explained Professor Samuel Landsberger, who directs the rehabilitation engineering program at Cal State L.A.

Under the direction of Professor Landsberger, CSULA’s mechanical engineering students Thomas Hurst and Majed Alsubiei are focused on providing improved means for people, specifically those in Mexico and the Philippines, to transport clean water to their homes from distant wells or springs as well as to decrease their potential for injuries or strains.

Last fall, more than 100 engineering students in CSULA were challenged by Landsberger and Professor Andre Avery to re-engineer the Q Drum as their class projects. Derived from the results of those projects, Hurst and Alsubei invented a prototype with support by fellow students Garrick Gregory, Ben Liu, Reymundo Ortiz and Rishad Rai.

“Our custom-designed wicker prototype, reinforced with a protective sealant for resistance to humidity and temperature, can transport six two-liter bottles with ease at a more affordable cost,” said Hurst, who recently presented CSULA’s innovative concept for the Q Drum Manufacturing Campaign at the inaugural Invent for Humanity Technology Transfer Exchange Fair in Geneva, Switzerland.

With more than 150 in attendance, the two-day fair featured CSULA’s Q Drum prototype along with 13 enterprise-creation campaigns geared toward new technologies that benefit humanity and build support for innovations.

“Woven rattan is a surprisingly strong and durable material. It is also extremely low cost, and there is a wealth of expertise in weaving and wicker work in many areas,” said Hurst. “When designing our prototype, we had to be inventive and think outside of conventional engineering boundaries to hit our targets.”

Alsubeie, who is originally from a desert region of the Arabian Peninsula with a limited water source, has experienced water transportation challenges first hand. He said, “Fifty percent of the world population lacks working and sanitary infrastructure to pipe water directly to their homes, so this prototype can make a difference.”

“It feels great to be able to help the poor to receive life’s basic need, water, to stay healthy or even to stay alive,” added Alsubeie. “While working on this project, I’ve learned a lot from Professor Landsberger. He guides and assists us, but he also wants us to look for the answers and to do the research, so we can become independent thinkers.”

“As the world becomes increasingly globalized,” said Hurst, “we must be prepared to approach both education and business with a perspective that allows people to be competitive and impactful on a much larger scale.”

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