An ongoing collaboration with Vulcan Augmetics Social Enterprise, a start-up that produces modular, affordable prosthetics, has enhanced the engineering and technology skills of RMIT Vietnam students.
Head of the School of Science & Technology Associate Professor Eric Dimla said that students were asked to design a prosthetic arm module that could help amputees carry out specific tasks.
“Students were asked to work with an arm that can support amputees to do particular jobs, such as washing dishes,” Associate Professor Dimla explained.
“It was very challenging as it involves a number of movements for the amputees to finish the job properly. Students completed the mechanical design and the first prototype of the electronic control, and will do integration and test the system shortly.”
Lecturers from the School of Science & Technology have also supported Vulcan Augmetics’ social impact initiative, Uplift, which aims to provide robotic arms and jobs to 30 amputees by joining its Host Committee. Project Uplift won the first Vietnam Blue Venture Award earlier this year, and will represent the country in the international competition, called The Venture, to be held in May.
Associate Professor Dimla commented that the project has fulfilled one of the University’s key goals of making a meaningful and impactful contribution to society.
“It is an opportunity for the School of Science & Technology not only to showcase our expertise in engineering and technology, but also to contribute to a project with such great impact in our community,” he said.
RMIT Vietnam and Vulcan Augmetics recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further enhance their partnership.
“As a startup, Vulcan Augmetics can showcase to our students how ideas can be realised and the steps and processes you go through in developing a product from concept to market,” Associate Professor Dimla explained.
“We are privileged to have had a very early partnership with Vulcan Augmetics through student internships, and more recent collaborative projects for both final year projects and authentic assessment requirements.”
As part of the MOU, the two parties will collaborate in a number of areas, including authentic learning projects; office tours; internships; participation in the School’s Industry Advisory Board; and guest talks and workshops on subjects including startup and SME operations, design thinking, product runs in small companies, and mechatronics for prosthetics, in order to prepare RMIT students for working in small design firms and startups.
Mr Rafael Masters, Founder and CEO of Vulcan Augmetics, said he values the partnership with RMIT and hopes to expand the scale of the cooperation over the coming years.
“During our time working together on Project Uplift, we found RMIT to be a forward-thinking, highly adaptive and proactive institute, and was an ideal partner for our campaign,” he said.
“The University helped us with our outreach, and provided interns and design teams.
“We will be working with RMIT to launch a series of physical hackathons later in the year to increase student exposure to product design.”
Story: Thuy Le