Prosthetic Arm Design Wins Award for UKZN Masters Graduate
UKZN Mechanical Engineering Masters graduate, Mr Drew Van Der Riet, has won third prize in the GAP Medical competition for a prosthetic arm he designed under the supervision of Dr Riaan Stopforth in 2013.
Van der Riet developed the proof of concept work during his MSc Eng research project with Stopforth which involved designing a sensory feedback system able to send information to the amputee.
An innovative control system makes several grip-types available for use on the arm. The user controls the prosthetic arm by giving the system commands to control the hand.
Van der Riet marketed the arm at the GAP Medical competition in which entrants are required to create and submit a fully detailed business plan.
His business plan was on: “Advanced Prosthetics Engineering”, a proposed spin-off company of UKZN, based on the robotic prosthetics research currently being done.
Van der Riet gave a presentation at the competition followed by a 15-minute Q & A session with a panel of eight judges which was well received with useful questions and feedback taking place.
A five-minute open presentation was later given to interested investors and the general public.
The competition also gave van der Riet a great opportunity to network and he made some useful contacts who will be able to mentor him in growing the company and help with the development.
Further development and testing of the prosthetic hand is being conducted at UKZN and the business support package will help to streamline the research towards establishing a company.