UBCO students bringing life-saving retrofits to donation bins - InfoNews

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UBCO students bringing life-saving retrofits to donation bins

UBC Okanagan Engineering instructor Ray Taheri watches as a student installs a kit that will make donation bins safer.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / UBCO
December 12, 2019 - 1:36 PM

Clothing donation bins should start moving back to Canadian streets now that UBC Okanagan engineering students have found ways to make them safer.

Dozens of bins were pulled off city streets after a number of people in Vancouver died while inside the bins. The Big Brothers and Sisters organization alone has pulled 180 bins and expects to lose half-a-million dollars in donations.

UBCO School of Engineering instructor Ray Taheri saw the problem as a challenge and directed his first-year design course students to find a way to retrofit existing bins.

“Most engineers know that modifying an existing design is often more difficult than starting from scratch,” Taheri said in a news release. “It was a perfect challenge for my students.”

At the same time, other students looked into the social side of the issue and found, for example, that most deaths happened within a few hundred metres of homeless shelters and happened between midnight and 6 a.m.

They looked at having timed locks and putting sensors on the bins to measure how full they are.

In the end, they came up with four prototypes and are now working with Big Brothers on plans to start retrofitting their bins over the next few months.

A UBC Okanagan engineering student studies a model of a clothing donation bin.
A UBC Okanagan engineering student studies a model of a clothing donation bin.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / UBCO


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