Boogüd: Bamboo bicycles

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By Alexander D. Chapin

Dec. 18, 2012

In many parts of the world, rough terrain limits the mobility of people in wheelchairs. ASU students created an innovative hand-cycle to solve this problem as part of a class project.

Video Transcript

Derrick Loud, ASU alumnus, biomedical engineering, Founder of Boogüd:  I started out with a concept late in 2009 where I was working on a Capstone Design Project in my senior biomedical engineering program. We were assigned the task of designing a mobility device for a small boy in Kenya, named Ishmael. He couldn't use his wheelchair on the rough terrain that was in Africa.

Doug Liu, undergraduate, computer systems engineering, Barrett, The Honors College:  The problem with wheelchairs over there is that the terrain does not support wheelchairs. The front wheel of the wheelchair basically gets stuck. We wanted to create an attachable hand cycle that would be able to alleviate some of that problem.

Loud:  It would allow him to become independent and travel to school by himself. We built him an attachable hand cycle that basically attaches to his wheelchair and turns it into a hand‑propelled tricycle.

Liu:  He's doing very well, he's still going to school, and he's greatly benefiting from our hand cycle.

Vincent Pizziconi, associate professor, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering:  We're looking to convert the metal pieces that we initially built the first prototype to more sustainable materials. One of the logical materials was bamboo, which turns out to be a very interesting material to use that grows in many parts of the world, including Africa.

It grows very fast, about a foot a day. There's about 1500 species. We learned a whole bunch about bamboo that we never knew before. It opened up a whole new dimension to our program. It's just one example of probably 50 or 60 devices that we designed and built and have in different countries in Africa.

Boogüd was an evolution of that design. One of the things that we're hoping to see in our program is that our students can take their design projects that are real world projects and able to move them out into the real‑world customers that need these devices.

Liu:  We wanted to do something that would attract a lot of people. That's why we chose bamboo bicycles. During the process that we were researching bamboo, we were looking into a lot of how bikes were constructed from bamboo. We thought it would be a great idea to start in a place like ASU, where there's a great bike community here.

Loud:  Our whole business plan is we sell you a bike and for each bike we sell, it will directly fund the donation of an attachable hand cycle to someone in need. We're not just donating hand cycles because that doesn't support their local economy over there in Kenya.

What we're doing is we're setting up a workshop over in Kenya, where Kenyan workers will actually build the hand cycles. What you're doing by buying a bike is supporting, giving jobs to them, and also supporting and donating a hand cycle to someone in need.

Liu:  The future of Boogüd Bicycle currently is to basically expand and let as many people know about it as much as possible. We're not just a bamboo bicycle company, but were also a company that is trying to do good out there. Research plays a really big role in helping us improve some ideas that we have.

Pizziconi:  I can think of no better way to train the students in these kinds of efforts where they understand the importance of their training and how they can make a difference in the world.

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