2011 Alumni Award Winner, Amos Winter, E03


Dr. Winter with a guest at the 2011 Alumni Awards

Dr. Winter demonstrates the Leveraged Freedom Chair

Dr. Winter's mother, Teresa Winter, E03P, takes a test ride


Wheels that won't quit

Founder and director of the MIT Mobility Lab, Amos Winter, Ph.D., is the principal inventor of the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), a wheelchair designed specifically for crossing long distances over rugged terrain in developing countries but is still small enough to use indoors. Dr. Winter, who lives in New Delhi, India, writes that the motivation to build the chair came from a summer spent talking to wheelchair users and disability groups in Tanzania. The LFC’s simple, all-bicycle part, single-speed lever drive-train creates 50% higher propulsion forces and up to 80% faster top speed than a conventional wheelchair.

The cost to produce the LFC? A mere $100—less than or equal to competing mobility products.

Dr. Winter is currently trying to commercialize the LFC in India with BMVSS Jaipur Foot, the largest disability organization in the world, and will join the faculty in the department of mechanical engineering at MIT in 2012. An avid traveler, he also spends his time “running, playing squash, snowboarding, and taking apart/fixing machines.”

Explore Amos' research, teaching, international development, travel adventures, and more!


Tufts University Alumni Association Citation

"Amos, since your Magna Cum Laude graduation with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts eight years ago, you have continued to display a thirst for knowledge, research, teaching, and innovation. From your undergraduate work developing robots, such as the Jumbot, and your volunteer work with the Elementary School Engineering Outreach Program, you have gone on to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. For your thesis defense last year, you developed a robot that emulates a clam digging through sand. You then went on to refine this robot so that it can be used for marine soil exploration.

"Congratulations on your appointment as a Post Doctoral Associate at MIT.

"Your work to develop a wheelchair for the disabled in areas of the world which lack the physical infrastructure for traditional wheelchairs, led to the founding of the Mobility Lab, or M-Lab, at MIT. The goal of an easy-to-manufacture, easy-to-repair, $200 wheelchair, resulted in your invention of the Leveraged Freedom Chair. This chair is a hand-lever powered wheelchair made from simple bicycle parts. This wheelchair has been tested in Africa, Guatemala, Tanzania, and India, and is now moving toward production. The impact of your design has been recognized more than a dozen times, including as an MIT Ideas Competition winner, with an R&D Magazine 100 Award, and with the Gold Spark Award for Design in the world-changing category.

"During your years at MIT, you also found time to mentor and teach, serving as a theses advisor to more than 25 undergraduates, and teaching several undergraduate classes. You were recognized last year with the MIT School of Engineering Graduate Student Extraordinary Teaching and Mentoring Award.

"As Professor Chris Rogers stated, “Your work is truly inspiring and an amazing example of someone leveraging their impressive knowledge for the good of others.”

"Amos, your outstanding academic, research, teaching and commitment to engineering for global good is already world changing and we look forward to what comes next.

"It is an honor to recognize you with the Young Alumni Achievement Award.


Photos by Matt Moodono

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