Engineering projects are a major proponent of development in impoverished areas throughout the world. Designers face difficulties when working on projects for unfamiliar cultures and infrastructure, from problem and constraint definition to final technology transfer. Through a design project and implementation trip, this study will examine the design process as it spans borders, cultures and languages, identifying key steps and methods in the process necessary for the success of such projects. One major problem many rural communities in developing nations experience is a lack of transportation infrastructure. Forms of transport common throughout the rest of the world are, in many cases, neither economically feasible nor locally sustainable. To establish basic infrastructure, a sustainable, affordable method of transporting goods and services is essential. This research project fulfilled this need by designing an appropriate local transportation solution, a human-powered utility vehicle (HPUV). To properly understand the problem, the researcher traveled to two different rural locations in Sub-Saharan Africa (Maase-Offinso, Ghana and Me`ri, Cameroon) on four different trips to gather information and customer input for the design of the HPUV. A final implementation involved traveling to Me`ri, Cameroon for three months during which one design prototype was built, tested and reviewed by local farmers and other end-users. The vehicle was tested quantitatively against metrics and specifications derived from initial assessment trips, as well as qualitatively through customer feedback. This direct feedback provides insight into the effectiveness of the machine and the design process followed, as well as identification of possible revisions to enhance the design’s value to those who need it. The design drawings and manufacturing plan are public-domain, and local mechanics in the village were taught the basic skills needed to produce the vehicle. The drawings and manufacturing plan were also presented to a local NGO capable of producing the vehicle using local labor.

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