In this article, Garrett Kryt, 2015 winner of the TREAT Award at the RESNA Student Design Competition, gives a first person account of his recently completed three week internship in residence at TREAT.
My name is Garrett Kryt and I have a passion for engineering design and all thing bicycle related. While completing my Mechanical Engineering degree at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, I became involved in a project to design a vehicle car rack for transporting handcycles. Handcycles are three-wheeled hand-pedaled trikes used by people with disabilities for mobility and outdoor access. The goal with my school project was to design a handcycle rack that would allow a wheelchair user to independently mount and dismount their handcycle onto their vehicle.
The resulting design presented a simple and elegant way of mounting and dismounting the handcycle with minimal user effort. My project supervisor, Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, recognized the innovation in my design, and encouraged me to submit the handcycle rack in the RESNA Student Design Competition. To my amazement I was selected as a semi-finalist in the competition, which resulted in a trip to the annual RESNA conference where I would compete in a final RESNA design competition.
One major prize of the final competition included the “Technology Most Likely to be Commercialized” award, sponsored by TREAT. Upon seeing the other design competition projects and teams, I felt like there was no way I would be selected for this prize. To my amazement, my handcycle rack was selected for the “Technology Most Likely to be Commercialized” award. The resulting prize included an internship at the TREAT facility where I would work with the TREAT team help bring the handcycle rack to market.
The TREAT facility is located in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The internship would last three weeks, in which I would focus on both business and design aspects of the project. With excitement and trepidation, I packed up the prototype and assembled my notes for my internship. After flying across the country I arrived in New Hampshire eager to get working on the project, all the while admiring the amazing New England scenery and weather.
At the TREAT facility my time was divided between focusing on the business and design aspects of my project. From a business perspective, I gained valuable insight into the costs of starting a small business, identifying and evaluating possible licensees, and the importance of good customer discovery in the design process. I also learned about proper techniques for searching and evaluating patents related to my design. The team at TREAT were invaluable in the business aspects of my project, providing the right mix of personal experience and theoretical business knowledge to help me assess strategies for my handcycle rack design.
The team at TREAT also helped me in the design aspects of the project. One particularly enjoyable component of this area included a design review with the engineering team at the facility. The handcycle rack had never been subject to this review and it was a great experience to present the design and gain feedback and suggestions from a wide audience of engineers with differing backgrounds and experience. This feedback will translate into further redesigns of the handcycle rack as the project progresses. TREAT was also able to help me locate the relevant design standards for my project, in order to ensure best practice in my design.
Further work is required on the handcycle rack on my part in order to bring the system to market. TREAT was able to help me identify the relevant areas for improvement, as well as the information I need to obtain to forward my commercialization goals. I aim to start bring my handcycle rack system to market as a small business, and my time at TREAT has certainly helped me in moving closer to this goal.
To see a prototype of Garrett’s handcycle rack in action, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn_HxC91jRY
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