A 24-year-old research design engineer named Siew E Ian has developed a first-of-its-kind rehabilitation tool to accelerate the healing process for open-heart surgery patients. Siew, who was born with a heart defect called pulmonary stenosis, underwent two open-heart surgeries himself. After graduating from the National University of Singapore, he decided to combine his skills and health experience to create a solution for other patients like himself.
The device, called Auxobrace, is a vest-like tool that provides support to the sternum bone, promoting optimal healing of the breastbone. Traditional methods of support, such as using a small pillow or wearing support braces, are not ideal as they have limitations and can carry the risk of infection. Siew spent a year developing Auxobrace after consulting with medical experts and interviewing patients who had recovered from open-heart surgery.
Auxobrace has an internal structure with mini cubes that can close when air is removed, causing the fabric attached to it to shrink evenly. This action applies pressure to the sternum bone, aiding in the healing process. Siew’s invention has already been patented, and he is collaborating with experts from the National University of Singapore and the National University Health System to further develop and commercialize the product.
The James Dyson Awards, an annual international competition that supports young design engineers, recognized Auxobrace as the 2023 Singapore national winner. Siew received a cash prize of S$8,000 and has the opportunity to compete for the top international prize in November.
In addition to Auxobrace, two other innovative projects were recognized as runners-up in the Singapore competition. Project Mimir, developed by a team of five students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, designed a low-cost Braille embosser using repurposed 3D printer parts. The embosser punches indentations into paper to form tactile Braille characters, providing visually handicapped individuals with access to printed materials at a lower cost.
The other runner-up project is a device that converts solar thermal energy into electricity. Created by a student from the National University of Singapore and a student from the Indian Institute of Technology, the device, called thermal floaters, can be floated on water bodies like reservoirs, allowing land-scarce countries to harness renewable energy.
These innovative projects demonstrate the creativity and problem-solving abilities of young engineers. The James Dyson Awards serve as a platform to showcase their inventions and provide financial support to further develop and bring their ideas to the market.
– The Straits Times/Asia News Network