FKAB Students Assist School To Help The Disabled

FKAB Students Assist School To Help The DisabledBy Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin

BANGI, 28 January 2015 – Amputees in Malaysia may soon be able to benefit from two inventions designed specifically for them; a page turner and a mechanical prosthetic hand, courtesy of a collaboration between students from the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FKAB) of The National University of Malaysia (UKM) and a group of secondary pupils in Kuala Lumpur.

The two inventions produced by four form 4 students of Sekolah Menegah Teknik Kuala Lumpur and the crystal@UKM programme were exhibited here in conjunction with the Faculty’s 30th anniversary celebrations recently.

The Page Turner was created for the disabled who likes to read books or magazines but cannot turn the pages because of a disabled or amputated hand. The page turners are moved by battery-powered rollers.

The reader needs to just press a switch connected to his foot to turn pages forwards or backwards.

One of the form 4 students in the design team N Sureinrajah said the device is an alternative to several types of accessories that are already in the market but sold at high prices.

The devise can still be modified and improved upon so that they can be used by people with other disabilities.

The prosthetic mechanical arm/hand was created especially for those with paralysed hands or amputees. It is made of plastic and wires, driven by electric motors that can move the hand and fingers to grasp and lift light objects.

Movement and hand grip is controlled by a switch attached near the shoulder or armpit of the person wearing the prosthesis.

Head of crystal@ukm programme Associate Prof Dr Hafizah Husain said both projects for the disabled still needed to be rigorously tested before they can be patented.

Dr Hafizah said each project of crystal@ukm is mentored by three third-year students of FKAB and led by a lecturer.

Crystal@ UKM was founded in 2009 as a joint venture with the  Faculty of Information Science and Technology UKM aimed at training undergraduates to mentor secondary school students in projects based on micro-processor chips, Dr Hafizah said.

The chips used for the projects are basic micro-processor chips that can be programmed using a laptop computer and have the capability to automate various tasks. It can be applied for use in everyday chores merely by connecting the chips to an electronic device placed on a home appliance.

The program which has been running for 4 years emphasises on workshops and practical activities to apply the skills needed by secondary school students and their mentors to produce useful devices. Workshop sessions were conducted according to the schedule set at between two to three months for 2 to 3 days in each period.