Saturday, April 5, 2008

Potential pedal-power could aid Third World

In Rowan University's mechanical engineering department, students' project resulted in the development of a pedal-powered grain crusher. Recently, Heather Klein and Josh Bonzella, senior civil engineers, along with Kevin McGarvey, a senior mechanical engineering major, have teamed with Dr. Beena Sukumaran, a civil and environmental engineering professor to create a pedal-powered grain crusher.

The grain crusher project has been offered to students for the past three semesters, culminating in a completion of a prototype that is expected to be finished during the fall of 2008.

At present villagers either do it by hand or have to walk several miles to get it ground in a mill, where the costs are quite high. A grain crusher helps to grind any grain to flour so that folks can use it for various purposes. The grain crusher that the students have designed can crush barley, rice, wheat, and corn.
By using the crusher, the women who are grinding grain all day by hand, or walking miles away to use a community machine would get a much needed break and would be available to do other things throughout their day.

The professors are now planning to make it popular in developing countries. They said "Bigger plans are expected for the grain crusher, which includes figuring out a way to get the product to other countries. "Well I think if we can get this crusher distributed on a large scale, it will really help these people get the grain they need without straining themselves," McGarvey said. "Plus we are hoping that it will be kind of fun for kids to ride, and just give them something fun to do that is also beneficial to the community," he added.

By doing such projects, students feel as a student itself, I could actually make a difference for someone who actually needs a change in everyday life. It is quite gratifying to be able to make a difference," Bonzella said. If it is successful, the grain crusher can help produce food for residents of Third World countries and enable some people to generate an income as they travel from community to community.

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