Design competition winners make life easier with 3D
Updated: Oct 22
Great challenges can inspire great innovations. Even with the pandemic a constant threat over the last seven months, three Iraqi designers have come up with groundbreaking ways to make life easier for people with physical challenges.
The three are the winners of our Iraq 3D Design Competition, chosen late last month in the competition's third round from among 10 finalists. All 10 had to submit a design that addressed and solved an everyday challenge for disabled people.
In an effort to motivate fellow Iraqis who’ve been quarantining for months, Field Ready team members at IOT Maker - with Erbil Makerspace and Mosul Space in cooperation with Al-Turath University - launched the 3D design competition in July to help people stretch their digital design and fabrication skills. With an initial 75 participants, judges winnowed the field down to 25 participants in the first stage (in which upcycling was the theme), 10 in the second stage (with an education theme) and to three for the third and final stage.
Participants had two weeks at each stage to submit their projects. The three top winners each received a 3D printer from the university and 2 kilograms of plastic filament from an Iraqi 3D company. The university also held an award ceremony for them.
The competition was an outgrowth of the remote learning events our makerspaces have offered interested Iraqis since the spring to keep learning fresh and help people build their digital skills during the COVID-19 lockdown. "The competition was open to all who’d attended in-person or online events at the makerspaces," said Mariam Yaarub, technical lead for Erbil Makerspace and one of the competition judges.
In addition to Yaarub, judges included Saad Hameed, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Al Mansour University, and Mohammed Azzam, the technical lead at Mosul Space.
Asking the finalists to come up with a design to solve real challenges for disabled people was both practical and philosophical, Yaarub said.
"Many people have been affected by war or terrorism in this region, and have lost limbs or been disabled by injuries because of these conditions," she said. "But the competition allowed these 10 qualified people to come up with ways to address those disabilities during a hard time for everybody - and it's a win for all. People used their creativity in new ways, and their designs solve real problems."
Judges selected the winning designs for innovation, accuracy, applicability and low cost.
Sinan Iyad Jamil, from Baghdad, won honors for his armrest and handrail design; the tool can be used along with several accessories to help people with missing or non-functional hands grip, carry and balance.
Ahmed Ameer of Erbil, pictured below, won honors for his wrist band design, which helps those with hand disabilities hold or catch items as well as use tools with ease.
Ahmed Al-Shaikhil of Baghdad won honors for his "KNEECKEL" design that provides mobility, standing and bending support for people suffering from joint or movement problems.
The competition also underscored how 3D design can be life-changing for creators, too. Ameer, who initially learned about Erbil Makerspace on Facebook a little more than a year ago, took trainings at the site and discovered a deep connection to 3D design. Quickly inspired to make tools to improve life for physically challenged people in his community, Ammeer created the wrist band and several other items at the makerspace. He has since parlayed his new skills into a university position as a mechatronic lab assistant and lecturer who often brings students to the makerspace to demonstrate 3D capabilities.
Over the next two months, each of the three winning designs will be made into prototypes and tested, Yaarub said. "We will be able to see these work in real time," she said, "and hopefully see someone's life improve."