ErgoLink, a design team made up of students from the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, won first place in the eTools Ergonomic Design Competition on march 22, 2010 for demonstrating superior ability to solve ergonomic related design problems. The event was sponsored by Auburn Engineers Inc.

“We had to redesign a backpack and a hand-held packaging tape dispenser—two common consumer products—as part of a multi-phase competition,” said Rami Shorti, ErgoLink’s team leader and mechanical engineering student at the University of Utah. “Our team was able to evaluate both products, and come up with innovative ways to improve their overall design, making them more ergonomically sound.”

As part of their evaluation process of the backpack, members of ErgoLink surveyed fellow college students to see how they used their backpacks, how much weight they usually carried in them, and which features they would like to see improved. After completing their evaluation, Ergo Link decided to make the backpack thinner by moving the center of mass closer to the body, reducing moment or torque on the lower back. They also added wider shoulder straps to help distribute the weight and reduce stress on the shoulders.

ErgoLink competed against seven teams from six universities and was presented with the award at the 13th annual Applied Ergonomics Conference. ErgoLink’s team members are: Rami Shorti (Team Leader), Sree Harsha Jampala, James Nolin, Chris Brammer, and Jason Kraft.