UR graduates’ senior biomedical engineering (BME) project, the MonoMano Cycling Control System, recently received the Student of Da Vinci Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The team, which includes Jackson Block ’12, Sara Hutchinson ’12, Dominic Marino ’12, David Narrow ’12, and Martin Szeto ’12, has even created a company to market their device.
In senior BME design classes, customers present problems to groups students, who then select a project to complete over the duration of the course. This group decided to undertake the task of designing a bike for people with little strength in their upper body. The tricycle-style bike that the group designed allows riders to maneuver effectively with the use of only one hand, the reason behind the name “MonoMano.”
“A lot of the technology is for people who don’t have strength in their upper body,” Narrow said. “We realized that stroke survivors had a huge need for a device like this. They have a need for stability.”
Professor of Biomedical Engineering Laurel Carney mentored the team.
“My role [was] really a cheerleader,” Carney said. “I joined their weekly meetings and participated occasionally in brainstorming. But the students try to understand as best as possible the customer’s needs and then they run with it.”
During their senior year, the students formed a company, MonoMano Cycling, to market their design. Through crowdsourcing and fundraising, things “started to pick up and get exciting,” Narrow said.
There are currently five control systems in use, and the group has recently applied for a full patent for their product. According to Narrow, the team’s marketing efforts have grown significantly since March of this year.
When Narrow was approached by a representative suggesting that the group apply for the Da Vinci Award, they decided to follow through and submitted a statement on the unique value and significance of the MonoMano system. The group submitted their project for evaluation and were selected as finalists.
“I guess they like us because they invited us to come to the awards in Michigan,” Block said. “I was really humbled that they honored us. It was just a tremendous honor. There were a lot great innovators there.”
According to Narrow, the MonoMano Cycling team was also the youngest group to receive an award.
Even as seniors, the team was competing with their product.
“This student team applied for a number of competitions,” Carney said. “They were very organized and interested in competing. There’s no prize, but it really gets the word out.”
Block noted that age and ability have no bearing on success.
“I would say [don’t] underestimate what you can do,” Block said. “To some extent, I was underestimating us. The longer I am out of college and realizing how well-prepared we really were, I just feel like I should have known I was ready to compete with whoever.”
Remus is a member of
the class of 2016.