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Akshaya Ahuja recently travelled to a national award ceremony in London to receive an award for his charity work. Akshaya, created a solution to help Sarah Stones, who has cerebral palsy, improve her posture while using a computer.
Akshaya, 27, has been working at Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP) as a mechanical engineer for 18 months. He explains how his invention works: ‘Sarah finds that due to lack of core muscle strength she leans too heavily on her left arm when she is working on her computer. This causes her shoulder problems and pain, so she needed something to remind her to correct her posture and sit upright.’
Akshaya came up with the light, rechargeable electronic armband that Sarah wears on her left forearm. ‘If she leans too heavily on it for too long, an alarm sounds which reminds her to adjust her posture,’ he explains. “The settings can be changed as her core strength improves, so it should bring benefits to her overall health in the longer term.”
Sarah, who lives in Cambridgeshire, says she is delighted with the result. ‘When I’m working if I lean too much over to the left, which I very often do, it reminds me to sit up straight again.
‘I’ve been wanting this gadget to be made for years and never knew that there was someone out there that could do it. So thank you so much and keep doing the amazing work.’
Akshaya helped Sarah through the charity Remap, which makes equipment to help disabled people live more independent lives. Remap volunteers, who mostly have engineering training, work on projects throughout the country. Akshaya’s design won the prestigious Wolff Award at Remap’s national award ceremony recently. Both he and Sarah travelled to London to receive the prize.
The design process was carried out by Akshaya in his spare time, using the facilities at CDP. ‘Sarah and I went back and forth with prototypes, refining the armband until it was just right,” he explains. ‘I’m lucky to have an employer that supports Remap and is happy for me to use the design software and lab facilities here at work. I was also able to get helpful advice from my colleagues on the project.’
Now that Sarah’s gadget is fully functioning, Akshaya is working on a second project for Remap, working out a way for a disabled blogger attach a video camera to a mobility scooter. ‘I’ve found working on these projects very rewarding and I’m sure I will carry on volunteering with Remap in the future,’ Akshaya says.
Mike Beadman of CDP says the company encourages staff to take part in voluntary projects such as this one: ‘We are delighted that Akshaya has won this award, which shows real flair and imagination. Our colleagues here are able to use our facilities to work on projects such as this and we offer flexible working hours so that they can carry out these charity projects while they are at work. We’re very proud of the contribution they make.’
Another CDP staffer who is volunteering for Remap is Jess Carroll, who has been working at CDP as a mechanical engineer since January 2019. Jess is working on a modification for a mobility scooter. ‘The client has problems working the throttle with her hands so I’m working on creating some sort of throttle rocker. At the moment I’m at the stage of contacting lots of scooter companies for advice and suggestions. I’m really lucky that CDP takes such a flexible approach to work schedules, so I can call up these companies in working hours. I will also be using the CDP 3D printer, tools and design software, so I feel very supported by the company in taking on this project.’
For more details on Remap, visit www.remap.org.uk
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