UBC engineers receive ALSBC Awards of Excellence

Released on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 9/30/2008 | View Article.

UBC Mechanical Engineering’s Brace Team—students Paul Hahto, Angela Melnyk, Liz Arnott, Isaac Herscovitch and instructor Mike Van der Loos—has won the inaugural ALS Society of British Columbia’s Excellence in Engineering Design Competition for Flexi-Brace, a dynamic neck brace.

UBC’s Flexi-Brace team pictured with ALSBC representatives.
Back row: Mike Van der Loos, Angela Melnyk, Isaac Herscovitch
Middle row: Dr Andrew Eisen, Richard Tang, Caroline Chen, Mickey Pun, Jeramy Wu, Elizabeth Arnott, Wendy Magee
Front row: Dr. Jim McEwen, Les Hart, Paul Hahto

Flexi-Brace, developed within a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering capstone design course, gives those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS—aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) increased mobility and freedom. The team also addressed issues of aesthetic appeal and comfort in its award-winning design.

The ALS Society of BC gave the team first-place and $5,000 for winning its first design competition, which seeks innovations to improve the quality of life of people living with ALS. A neurodegenerative disorder that affects motor neurons that carry messages from the brain to muscles, ALS results in weakness, atrophy and immobilization; upon initial diagnosis, typical life-expectancy is two to five years.

The Flexi-Brace team also placed second in the 2008 Canadian Design Engineering Network student design competition, which endeavors to enhance the capacity for design and innovation in Canada.

The ALS Society of BC was founded by ALS patients, their family members and health care professionals to meet the physical and emotional needs of people with ALS and their caregivers. To learn more about ALS BC, visit: http://www.alsbc.ca/