This grant supported the development of a three-wheeled (2 articulating front 1 rear) recumbent electric bicycle designed to operate like a bike, feel like a car, and provide comfortable, easy commuting with minimal energy consumption and pollution. The team consisted of three mechanical engineering students working with advisors from business and entrepreneurship, and an external advisor in the industry. The team prototyped and tested a system, defined the market opportunity, and developed a business plan.
The University of Portland is developing a course that pairs UP students with counterparts in developing countries to teach the fundamental principles of sustainable entrepreneurship and to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in the developing country.
The proposed course is highly competitive, with four UP students chosen to participate in the first year. The course includes course work, field experience, and annual visits to the partner country. By the end of the first year, students identify an issue, research, and recommend a solution. In the second year they create an action plan and analyze resources, and in the third year they successfully complete the plan.
Anyone that has had an injury requiring crutches knows they are uncomfortable to use over a long period of time. Extended pressure to the upper extremities can cause chronic shoulder pain, arthritic conditions, discomfort, muscle weakness and fatigue, as well as injuries to underarm arteries. For some, these health problems become so severe that they must use a wheelchair.
This E-Team developed the Keen Krutch, a more comfortable, more versatile crutch that alleviates the problems associated with traditional crutches and provides increased mobility. The Keen Krutch features underarm cushioning that conforms to the curvature of the body; a contour shape to redistribute pressure; adjustable, mobile handgrips to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome; shock absorbers; and a pivoting ankle joint for increased mobility.
The idea for the Keen Krutch was originated by Vail Horton, who was born without legs and has used crutches from an early age. After graduating from the University of Portland, Horton and his former roommate Jerry Carleton co-founded Keen Mobility, an assistive technology company built around the crutch. Today the company is thriving and growing rapidly, having reached over $2 million in cumulative sales with $1.2 million in 2005. In addition to the Keen Krutch, the company manufactures an array of technologically advanced, safe ambulatory aids and other progressive products that allow people with disabilities greater mobility, safety, and independence.