College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Unisa engineering students design mobility solutions for retirement home

A team of students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Unisa’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology recently designed and built two wheelchairs which they donated to the Floroma Old Age Home, situated in Roodepoort, a few kilometres from the Unisa Science Campus. The innovative donation was made as part of Unisa’s 150-year celebrations and also coincided with Floroma’s 75th anniversary.


Stephen McFarlane, Floroma Manager, receiving the wheelchairs from project leader Prof Pita Mothibeli

"The main drive behind this initiative was the use of engineering knowledge to solve existing community challenges while propelling research," says Prof Pita Mothibeli, project leader and Acting Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Several studies have shown that both children and adults benefit substantially from access to a means of independent mobility, including powered wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, scooters and walkers."


Prof Pita Mothibeli and the team of students who designed the wheelchairs are pictured here together with residents and staff of the Floroma Old Age Home

The wheelchairs were designed in the state-of-art laboratory facilities available at the Unisa Science Campus in Florida by the engineering students as part of their work-integrated learning programme. The team behind the design and development of the wheelchairs was also involved in the design of the "Unisolar", a Unisa solar powered car that won the Solar Car Rookie Award at the 2023 Bridgestone Ilanga Cup in November 2023.

This year, from 13 to 20 September 2024, the team will be participating at the Sasol Solar Challenge, where different teams take on the challenge to develop, build and drive solar-powered cars, with the goal of covering the most distance without using a drop of fuel.


* By Dr Nozipho N Gumbi, Communication and Marketing Specialist (acting), Unisa College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Publish date: 2024/03/06

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