Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Heidi M. Steinhauer, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Patrick N. Currier, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Lisa K. David, M.S.


It appears that there is a need for affordable, functional and safe emergency medical support service vehicles in rural Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is inferred that the road conditions have an influence on the availability, durability and affordability of motorized and non-motorized vehicles in rural areas. Also, it is deduced that locally modified bicycle and motorcycle ambulances are not conducive to maternal patients during emergencies. This study investigates the feasibility of modelling an ergonomically and crashworthy patient compartment for road conditions in rural SSA. The patient compartment is modelled by establishing geometrical requirements via a design standard for emergency medical support services and also, by using bio-mimicry as a design optimization technique. The bio-mimicry technique is conducted by extracting the skeletal architecture of a Leopard Tortoise’ shoulder girdles and transforming them into geometrical configurations of the patient compartment’s beam-columns. The geometrical features are then integrated with the design specifications of the selected baseline vehicle, Polaris Ranger 6×6 as well as the physical requirements of the patient compartment from an ASTM document (American Society of Testing Materials). A separate model with boxy configuration is created so as to evaluate the bio-mimicry design technique. Both configurations are assigned similar material and physical properties which are deduced from low income resources and then, they are analyzed for crashworthiness through structural performances using computer aided engineering software. The structural failures of both models are simulated using Ambulance Manufacturer’s Division’s static test requirements as well as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards’ impact test specifications. It is concluded that bio-mimicked configuration of a shoulder girdle into structural beam-columns of a patient compartment provides a bottom heavy arrangement (more mass and volume), acts as a stress dissipater under static loading and energy absorbing elements during impacts particularly in the surrounding regions of the occupant.

Included in

Ergonomics Commons