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City-based engineering charity aims to improve lives in sub-Saharan Africa

Developing Technologies features notable work of MEng students.
by John Stevenson

Developing Technologies (DT) aims to make a difference to the lives of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

nullInitially established in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Imperial College London (ICL), the UK charity is now an important aspect of the work of budding mechanical engineers within the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (SEMS). According to Professor Keith Pullen, DT has been set up to tackle poverty in less developed countries by "designing, developing and delivering affordable and appropriate technical solutions which respond to requests from organisations on the ground in the countries concerned".

The charity, which was co-founded by Professor Pullen and coordinated by Mr Ron Dennis, carries out its work via student projects which are then transferred overseas with on-going support for implementation and widespread dissemination.

The projects identified are supervised in such a way as to include suitable academic content, as well as reliable access to relevant information, knowledge, resources and achievable outputs.

Funmi Odusanya and Priya Talwar, both fourth year MEng (Mechanical Engineering) students, play a leading role in the activity. They joined the DT team during their third year. They are hoping to meet improved transportation needs in rural sub-Saharan Africa through their work on an Alternative Transport Service Vehicle (ATSV) - a low-cost vehicle capable of carrying many people and travelling at a moderate speed. This is aimed at helping poor families to transport their farm produce and purchases to and from local markets.

The ATSV has been in development over the last three years and a prototype vehicle is currently in the process of being manufactured. It is envisaged that the vehicle's front frame (designed to obviate the necessity for a powertrain and reduce the complexity of manufacture and cost) assembly will be completed this year.

Taking over from Priya in October 2012, Funmi currently coordinates the design and manufacture of the ATSV while Priya now leads a second group developing a new multipurpose Towing Vehicle.

City engineering students who are involved in the DT charity have also contributed to developing a moulding process for recycling plastic bags into marketable roofing and floor tiles, a bicycle ambulance and a clean cookstove incorporating electrical power generation.

To learn more about the work of Developing Technologies at City, click here.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.