Kiara Lavana

STEM II: Assistive Technology

We start STEM II in about early March at MAMS, following the conclusion of our STEM 1 independent research project. In STEM II, we learn more about the engineering process and product development. In March, we chose our roles for the term (CEO, CTO, CIO, or CMO) and then it was up to the CEOs to choose their teams. I was a CEO and I picked Eeman (CTO), Smita (CMO), and Diksha (CIO) to join my team. While we all came from different sections, everyone on our team immediately clicked, and together, we fostered a light-hearted, but professional working environment. Through the entire STEM II process, I learned so many new skills in manufacturing and engineering, like for example, the correct way to use power tools and their different uses. I am incredibly proud of my group, because in the end, we managed to produce a working dog feeding device for our client at Easter Seals.

Designing a mechanized dog feeder for wheelchair users.

CEO: Kiara Lavana, CTO: Eeman Saud, CIO: Diksha Sriram, CMO: Smita Bhogle

Advisor: Dr. Kevin Crowthers, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science)

Problem Statement

Manually administering food to a dog presents additional challenges for individuals using wheelchairs due to their limited range of motion. Holistically, the standard process of providing food to dogs using a dog bowl on a floor with the products on the market is ill-adapted to individuals without full use of their legs.

Motivation: Meet Client X

Client X is an individual using a wheelchair. He currently has a large-sized canine companion he tends to daily. When meeting with the client, he mentioned that he often faces impediments when trying to feed his dog, more specifically, obtaining food from the bag, bending down to place food on the ground, and rotating his wrist to pour out the food.

Design Approach

During March and April, our group went through many iterations and preliminary designs. In the end, we ended up continuing with Design D since it fulfilled all of the Level 1 Criteria and incorporated many of the design ideas from multiple of our preliminary designs.

Below are our initial sketches, subsequent CAD renderings, and final photos of Design D, our final product.

Design D sketch Design D CAD Design D Final

Build Process

The build process included the procedure for constructing our wooden skeleton, 3D printing the rotational dispensation components, and securing the entire prototype together. Below are a few pictures from each of the stages.

Design D sketch Design D sketch Design D sketch Design D sketch Design D sketch

Final Device

The final device is a 36 in x 12 in x 51 in dog feeder that has a storage capacity of about 5 L of dry dog food for mechanized dispensation. It is made up of a 4 in diameter PVC pipe that doubles as a method of transportation and a means of storage for the food. The pipe is attached to two 2 in x 6 in x 46 in wooden beams using 3D printed circular brackets that are drilled to a wooden board at the bottom for extra stability. The rotational dispenser dispenses 1 cup of dog food per 1 rotation. This dispenser is controlled using a rotating handle, which protrudes from the right side of the device 22 inches above the ground. The device also includes an additional 2 L of external storage on top of the 3 L storage in the PVC pipe. This container is connected to the wooden beams using Velcro adhesive tape, so if the owner wants to detach the storage for washing, they are able to do so with ease.

Instructions for use

Take at a look at the handout below for instructions on how to replicate and use our device. Feel free to reach out to me or anyone else on my team if you have any questions about our work.

Final Presentation

Down below is the presentation my group gave for our Acceptance and Delivery Review. Included on slide 28 is a "live" demonstration video of how our device works.