"We were absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm of the students. They knew their stuff inside out."

Product design students from the University of West England (UWE Bristol) took on a partnership project with Motivation, helping us look for ways to further revolutionise mobility design. Ian Harris (Motivation senior designer) and David Constantine (Motivation founder director) were invited to oversee the three week 'live project'.

This project focused on improving the fit and production of mobility devices in developing countries, and encouraged students to think about mobility in a more creative way, testing assumptions about what can be possible. The brief included one requirement - no wheelchairs. Ian and David added this to push the students to think outside the box and were delighted that they rose to the challenge.

We were absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm of the students.

Some groups came up with innovative postural support devices. Others designed cushions, mobile fitting services and even mobile phone apps. One student went the extra mile and visited our partner organisation APDK while home in Kenya for Christmas - a testament to the sheer dedication of the group.

When the students came to the Motivation offices to present their ideas, our design team and therapists were incredibly impressed by what they saw.

"We were absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm of the students," Ian told us. "There were positives in every project presentation; they were exceptional. They filled in some of the gaps for the future, and knew their stuff inside out."

Looking to the future

During the presentations, possible future technologies suggested by the students included 3D printing carbon fibre. This is currently a long way off due to budget constraints, but was signposted as a positive new option for the future.

The project also kick-started a future collaboration with a student who has taken our experience in 3D printing and digital imaging measurement systems and taken it to new heights. He envisages a future where people all over the world can go to a wheelchair service and have a specific, bespoke chair manufactured for them with minimal waiting time.

This student project will definitely be useful for our future work overseas.

"Having these forward-thinking perspectives was really refreshing for us," David explained. "We've been in design a long time and these students are starting on a different plane. This was, without a doubt, the most relevant student project we've ever done; it will definitely be useful for our future work overseas."

"The students were thorough, creative, professional and dynamic," Ian added. "UWE Bristol is clearly delivering an excellent design course - the calibre of their students is outstanding."

Our new strategy

In 2018, Motivation will be launching a new three year strategic plan, which will enable us to reflect and learn while continuing to deliver impact. A key part of this strategy will be to revisit our wheelchair design and approach to wheelchair provision so we can ensure we are working in the most effective way.

With this in mind, our partnership with UWE Bristol students has come at a perfect time and we are very much looking forward to more collaboration in the future. Thanks UWE!

Support Motivation

If you would like more information about this project or our design work, contact Ian Harris or David Constantine. To support Motivation and help us provide wheelchairs to disabled people all over the developing world, make a donation.