Master of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)
Faculty of Science and Engineering
For engineering masters student Mahonri Owen, the drive to help others led him to undertake one of the most complex research projects – to design and create a brain-controlled electro-mechanical prosthetic hand.
Having spent his childhood watching his mum care for and serve others in the community, Mahonri knew that helping others was his future – it was just a question of how.
After a suggestion to develop the prosthetic hand was made by his academic supervisor, Dr Chi Kit Au, Mahonri jumped on the idea and first began by researching what was going on around the world in the development of prosthetic limbs.
The next step for Mahonri was to build the hand, but it's easier said than done. "Once I've built the hand I need to programme it to do simple tasks," says Mahonri.
Such tasks include power grip, key grip, ball grip and pinch. He has already built the skeleton using a 3-D printer to produce the components – taking a total of seven hours to print – and mapped out the design using on-screen CAD (computer aided design). With each part assembled by hand, once completed the goal is to use a neural interface which is non-invasive to control the hand.
Following schooling at the Church College of New Zealand, he began a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in 2007, before taking a break for two years to complete a church service mission in South Africa. Along with his engineering achievements, Mahonri is the recipient of a Sir Apirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship.