All Thayer News

Undergraduates Win Award for Innovative Ankle Brace

Nov 28, 2014

Each quarter, the Phillip R. Jackson Award is given to the group with the best overall performance in ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering as determined by the Review Board which applies the following criteria:

Ankle support system

  • societal importance of the selected problem
  • user-centric design considerations
  • sophistication of the design and degree of difficulty
  • functionality of the prototype, its documentation and testing
  • holistic approach to the engineering design process
  • consistent outstanding performance on both written and oral milestones

The Review Board chose the Fall 2014 winner as Group 5: "Brace Yourself." Group members were Magnus Bigelow '17, Prescott McLaughlin '17, and dual degree students Graham Scott and Guram Vardiashvili. With assistance from TA Kiah Williams and Machine Shop Instructor Pete Fontaine, the group developed an innovative, semi-rigid ankle brace tailored from carefully selected materials and stiffened with thermo-moldable polymer reinforcements that the user shapes to a custom fit to prevent ankle injuries.

Dartmouth engineering project demo
Magnus Bigelow '17 at the ENGS 21 final project demos.

The group's problem statement reads: "Current ankle injury prevention devices do not combine lateral stability, comfort in footwear, ease of use and maintenance without sacrificing athletic performance." Through numerous iterations and careful testing, the team developed a solution that "can be worn comfortably in combination with footwear during athletic performance and is neither overly bulky nor under supportive."

"We are excited to see that the group is continuing to pursue the concept," says the course instructor, Professor Ulrike Wegst. Team "Brace Yourself" has already filed for a provisional patent and is now looking into possible funding sources to continue the development of their product which they have named "FyreFrame Braces."

"The team sees as particularly promising the interactions with the DEN and the new product incubator that Trip Davis [D'90, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Technology Transfer] introduced to the class," added Wegst. "Additionally, they're exploring funding sources through Skidmore College and St. Lawrence University. Also exciting is that Magnus, Prescott, Graham and Guram are applying to the Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge."

The Phillip R. Jackson Award was established through his generosity as a former member of the Thayer School Board of Overseers from 1977–1986. Additionally, he was former president of the Jackson Construction Company that was responsible for the conference room addition to the engineering school in which the final project presentations for ENGS 21 were held.

For contacts and other media information visit our Media Resources page.