Brigham Young University and the 2021 AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Challenge (ACE4G)

AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Challenge, also known as ACE4G, is a competition to encourage chemical engineering students and their partners to consider how chemical engineering know-how can be appropriately applied on a small scale to improve the quality of life for communities in the developing world. 

Brigham Young University Student Chapter won first place in the 2020 competition with their submission “Low-Cost Molds for Prosthetic Liners.”

We caught up with the student chapter team members Hannah Duffy and Madison Frei to learn more about their competition idea, what inspired them to enter the competition, and what they learned in the process.

How did you come up with the idea for your competition submission, “Low-Cost Molds for Prosthetic Liners”?

Hannah: One of BYU’s most popular engineering elective courses is Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) where students form interdisciplinary teams and work with local individuals to create solutions to problems in developing communities. In conjunction with 2ft Prosthetics at BYU, our GEO team connected with Prostetis Imbabura, a humanitarian prosthetics clinic in Ecuador.

The clinic receives donated prosthetics, but prosthetic liners are expensive and cannot be reused. Our job was to engineer a mechanism to create liners on site. Our low-cost mold is a solution for the clinic to fabricate their own prosthetic liners for each patient.

Madison: The project was first brainstormed by a past BYU student who worked with the clinic to find a meaningful project for our humanitarian engineering class, Global Engineering Outreach. The initial idea was pitched to our team, and then we did a lot of research and brainstorming to design and build the low-cost liner mold. 

Do you think that the technology you recommended could be implemented on a larger scale?

Hannah: Yes! With some iteration and further work, this project has the potential to be far-reaching in prosthetic clinics across the globe. As we improve our design, we expect the manufacturing precision of liner batches to improve dramatically.

As we reach this point, training programs and adequate sourcing of materials, including medical-grade silicone and various fabric types, must be available in locations of implementation. We hope that implementation will occur in the upcoming years so prosthetic liners can become more affordable.

Madison: Definitely! One of the key aspects of this project is that it’s low-cost. It lends itself to scaling the project to produce many molds that can be used around the world to help prosthetic clinics around the globe make more affordable liners for their patients. 

One of the best parts of this project was getting to work on an interdisciplinary team to creatively solve a problem. We each contributed our ideas and helped each other in different areas of weakness. —Madison Frei

What inspired you to enter this competition?

Hannah: We believe in the impact low-cost prosthetic liners can have on patients’ lives and we wanted to bring awareness to the Prostetis Imbabura’s mission to provide prosthetic care to those who cannot afford it. We hoped that entering an AIChE competition would inspire other BYU students to get involved in outreach projects such as the ones GEO does each year to use their engineering skills for good!

Madison: We were so excited to contribute our ideas to a project that so directly improves people’s well-being and livelihood by giving them a more affordable and comfortable option for their prosthetic liner. We love Protesis Imbabura’s work and how they help improve the lives of so many.

We hope that this competition can help raise awareness of how current engineering students can contribute their skills to do good!

What were some of the highlights of working on this competition with your team members? Did you learn anything new in the process?

Hannah: I loved the interdisciplinary nature of this project! Our team included chemical, mechanical, and manufacturing engineers, and each individual’s skills were needed for success. I learned concepts of CAD design and woodworking prototyping as well as elements of mold manufacturing and material testing.

As a chemical engineer, I mostly focused on material selection and testing of each of our silicone and fabric components with each mold iteration. As a team, we learned to work across cultural and geographical barriers with the tools we had, even in the middle of a pandemic. I am so grateful for this opportunity to share what we have learned as university students with our friends in Ecuador. 

Madison: One of the best parts of this project was getting to work on an interdisciplinary team to creatively solve a problem. We each contributed our ideas and helped each other in different areas of weakness. I learned a lot about the design process and how to keep working to problem solve when an on-paper perfect design doesn’t quite pan out in real life! 

2021 ACE4G Challenge

The second cycle of the 2021 ACE4G Challenge is open for registration through October 29, 2021. For more information about the ACE4G Challenge, contact Alan Zagoria at and visit this page regularly for updated information.

Learn more about the competition and register today.

Connect with Brigham Young University student chapter.