Portsmouth apprentices develop tech to help injured soldiers

Posted on 12 Feb 2016 by Callum Bentley

A team of 10 apprentices from BAE Systems Maritime Services in Portsmouth has won a competition to develop an improved 'grabber' device used by injured military personnel as part of the company’s biennial Apprentice Innovation Challenge.

Eight teams of apprentices from across BAE Systems in the UK used their engineering and project management skills to design and develop technologies to fulfil a brief set by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Their challenge was to create an improved grabber device to help patients with limited mobility to pick-up out of reach objects.

The teams were given nine months to plan; design; create. and test their end products, before they were presented to a panel of judges and engineering experts.

Team Portsmouth designed their winning prototype to a strict budget and conducted research by visiting Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, speaking with physiotherapists and allowing patients to test out their innovation – Stag Grab – to ensure it met their needs and requirements.

BAE Apprentices
BAE Apprentices – Team Portsmouth

One of the most impressive features of Team Portsmouth’s design is the device’s ‘trigger’ that can be operated using any finger.

It demonstrated the team’s awareness of the brief by ensuring their product can be used by all different levels of ability and strength.

Speaking at the judging day held at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, Captain Cameron Johnston, Military Physiotherapist at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital said: “It has been an amazing experience to be part of this challenge over the last nine months.

“Each of the teams was given the same brief and it’s been fascinating to see how each of them has used their various skills and experience to develop unique approaches to the problem. The purpose behind the challenge was to create solutions that encourage patient independence after injury and each of the projects on show today perfectly embodied that ethos.”

BAE Systems recently announced it will take on a record 142 higher and degree level apprentices as part of a wider recruitment of more than 680 apprentices in 2016.

Andy Wright, BAE Systems’ Director of Technology and member of the judging panel, added: “The products offered not only the potential to make a positive change to injured military personnel, but could also open up possibilities for a wider market of users who suffer from limited movement or dexterity. I congratulate everyone involved in this challenge for their hard work and commitment.”

Commenting at the awards ceremony, Member of Team Portsmouth, Lewis Hall said: “As a team we’re amazed because there was such strong, clever and well-thought out competition. We’re truly humbled and utterly shocked that the judges decided we were the winning team.

“We strongly believed in Stag Grab’s design and the team were really enthusiastic about improving the lives of the injured personnel and giving something back to those who deserve it the most.”