EC.721 | Spring 2009 | Undergraduate

Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries



Introduction to wheelchairs in developing countries

Review potential projects

2 Wheelchair/Trike relay race around campus

Wheelchair Standards Organizing Committee Formed.” Whirlwind Wheelchairs International. Press Release, September 27, 2005.

Information Package on Wheelchairs. International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics 2005.

Winter, Amos G., V. “Assessment of Wheelchair Technology in Tanzania.” International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering 2, no. 1 (Fall 2006): 60-77. (PDF)


2008 summer fellow presentations on last year’s projects

Guest speaker: Alison Hynd, MIT Public Service Center, on summer fellowships

Wheelchair sections in Werner, David. “Nothing About Us Without Us: Developing Innovative Technologies For, By, and With Disabled Persons.” (PDF - 4.0MB) (Courtesy of David Werner.)

2.007 lecture notes on design process (PDF) (Courtesy of Alex Slocum. Used with permission.)


Designing wheelchairs for the developing world

Deterministic design process

Watch videos of wheelchair workshops
5 Guest Speaker: Joost Bonsen on developmental entrepreneurship

Dolan, Robert J. “Note on Marketing Strategy.” Cambridge MA: Harvard Business School, 2000. Product No. 9-598-061.

6 Guest speakers: Abdullah Munish and Fatuma Acan  
7 Strategy presentations

Independence through Mobility: A Guide to the Manufacture of the ATI-Hotchkiss Wheelchair (PDF - 1.6MB).

Note: You are not required to read the whole document, but skim to see what info may be useful for your project.

8 Guest speaker: Amy Smith and Amy Banzaert - Appropriate technology, idea to product, successfully implementing technologies  

Discussion of different appropriate and inappropriate technologies

Wheelchair role-play

“Power of Persons with Disabilities, Advocacy and the Challenges” Guest talk by Maryan Amaral, Aero Inc.

Results from Tanzanian Wheelchair Foundation Study

10 Wheelchair Biomechanics/Ergonomics and design for human use Selections from Mayall, J. K, and G. Desharnais. Positioning in a Wheelchair. 2nd ed. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Incorporated, 1995. ISBN: 9781556422515.
11 Power output test up ramp in basement  
12 Manufacturing processes and strategies Smillie, Ian. Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology. Bourton-on-Dunsmore, UK: ITDG Publishing, 2000. ISBN: 9781853395079.
13 Product design and critique of existing wheelchair designs  
14 Material science/mechanics of materials/welding with Mike Tarkanian Winter, Amos, and Ralf Hotchkiss. “Mechanical Principles of Wheelchair Design.” (PDF - 2.2MB)
15 Material science/mechanics of materials/welding with Mike Tarkanian  
16 Watch “Murderball” in class Murderball. Directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro. 2005
17 Finish “Murderball” and watch parts of “Emanuel’s Gift” Emmanuel’s Gift. Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern. 2005.
18 Guest speaker: Ralf Hotchkiss, on his career and designing wheelchairs  
19 Material properties and performance  

Guest Speaker: Prof. David Gordon Wilson on human-powered machines

Review wheelchair designs and how they contribute to body image

21 Guest Speaker: Rory McCarthy on handcycle design and racing  
22 Project work  
23 Project work (cont.)  
24 Project work (cont.)  
25 Project work (cont.)  
26 Project work (cont.)  
27 Final presentation session  

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Demonstration Videos
Image Gallery
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples