Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crash Testing social entrepreneurship part 2

Simple and inexpensive child car seat design proven safe, meets standards

“The goal here is to validate the design and then give it away with the confidence that it met the highest standards.” Matthew Reed (Research Associate Professor in the Biosciences Group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute) said moments before the bumper sled slammed home.

Rachel Strauss (left) and Megan Bland (right) fabricating their design. 
Photo by Marcin Szczepanski.
In early February of this year, LabLog reported on a pair of biomedical engineering students who will graduate from the University of Michigan College of Engineering this spring. Though a noteworthy accomplishment, Rachel Strauss and Megan Bland have succeeded at something even more inspiring:

They designed an inexpensive and simple to fabricate child restraint that has passed the NHTSA standards for rear and front facing impact.

“Megan and I were both very happy to see that the crash testing proved that this concept is feasible. It was very gratifying to see that all of the time that was put into the development of the child restraint paid off,” says Strauss.

The concept was inspired by some unnerving facts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concluded that the leading causes of death for children 3-14 years old are motor vehicle accidents. Further, only 20 percent of low-income countries enforce child safety restraint laws, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Now that they have passed, Strauss is intent on moving forward stating, “We are excited to continue optimizing the design to work towards our goal of implementation in areas of need. We are participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Competition later this week.”

If they qualify as regional finalists in the competition, the pair will compete at the ESV International Collegiate Student Safety Technology  Design Competition in June. Strauss will present a conference paper on the project at  SAE World Congress to be held April in Detroit.

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