The UVic BMED team

Through Clubs That Care, an initiative by Neil Squire’s Makers Making Change program, we are helping university and post-secondary clubs and groups to build affordable assistive technology for their community. One such club is the University of Victoria (UVic) Biomedical Engineering Design Club. They have already hosted a build event and are looking forward to doing more. Here’s a bit about them in their own words:

a large group of UVic BMED students building switches at their build event

“The UVic Biomedical Engineering Design (BMED) Club is a student-led undergraduate group that takes on a wide range of projects related to medical technology. The club was formed in 2019, when a group of students were approached by a community member looking for assistance designing a sensor for their wheelchair. From the project’s success, the BMED club was formed and has now grown to have over 30 active members! We continue to work with community members in need, as well as professors at UVic, to give our members a variety of experiences that build practical design skills and help people in our community.

When we heard about the Clubs That Care program, it fit perfectly into our club’s mission of assisting our community through providing accessibility adapted devices. One of our current projects this term is working alongside a toddler in the community with a congenital limb defect to design a custom prosthetic adaptation to give her more mobility and functionality. There are many accessibility barriers that can be addressed through fairly simple devices, and the devices in the Makers Making Change library provide the perfect opportunity for us to provide a larger number of accessibility devices.

a student uses a soldering iron to work on a switch

For our first event we built Interact Switches — a simple but ubiquitous device with a large range of applications. It was a great way to have a fun social event with our club, and have our members get experience in manufacturing skills, such as soldering and 3D printing. For our next event, we will be modifying a variety of children’s toys to be used alongside the switches. These will be donated to BC Complex Kids, who are partnering with us to distribute the toys to the children in our community who need them.

a student shows of their Interact Switch that they made with a smiley face on the button

Through the engineering curriculum, there are many opportunities for theoretical design, but much fewer for actually manufacturing, testing, and producing working products. The BMED club aims to help our members acquire practical skills that are incredibly valuable for working in the industry but are not taught in the classroom, and the Clubs That Care program is perfectly aligned with this.

The support and resources offered by Makers Making Change have been critical in making this impact possible, and the BMED club is grateful for the opportunity to apply our skills to help our community.”

a student giving a thumbs up at the build event