Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024
Engineering students create a double-sided vest that can help carry water and other supplies on one’s back.

Engineering students create a double-sided vest that can help carry water and other supplies on one’s back.

UW-Madison students continue to make impact on Kenyan community

UW-Madison engineering students are continuing to help the women of a Kenyan village with an invention they initially developed last year that allows the women to carry water on their backs .

A double-sided vest was created last fall by students in Interdisciplinary Engineering 170 after they were assigned a class project instructing them to create a product for a client. Lesley Sager, a faculty associate who teaches interior design in the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology, was the client for the semester.

Sager, who had traveled to Kenya with other students for her design thinking course, met women from Tharaka Nithi County whose daily struggles to carry large amounts of water were causing the women neck, back and head pain.

Nicole Froelich, an engineering student who helped create the water vest, said she was originally under the impression it was just for a school project.

“In a lot of cases, the clients for this project will simply be made up,” Froelich said.

However, after finding out the vest could actually help real women, she said she was excited to start designing the product.

The team created three ideas: a cart that could roll, a barrel that could be pulled, and the water vest that could be worn on a woman’s back.

Froelich said one of their main priorities during the design process included making a product that was long-lasting and could be made with material available in Tharaka Nithi County. Another priority was making the carrier accommodating for women who had to carry children or other bags.

After the team decided the vest was their best design, they created a prototype out of sail canvas that the UW-Madison Hoofers Sailing Club donated.

Sager took the final prototype with her to Kenya. After showing great promise, she encouraged the team to apply for a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship. She also invited them to join her on a return trip in May 2018 to see their product in action.

Froelich said she could see the immediate impact that the vests made, as the women’s faces lit up after trying the vests on.

According to Froelich, Hoofers has recently donated more sail canvas, and the team will continue to help facilitate the creation and implementation of the water vests throughout the fall.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

“The experience was so life-changing that we’re not ready to let go of it yet,” Froelich said. 

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal