They are being hailed as this year’s James Dyson Award National Champion
Studies have shown that the Philippines has the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia and ninth in the world. In fact, in 2020 alone, there were 86,484 new cases of female breast cancer in the Philippines, and mastectomy breast removal has been shown to have a psychological impact on patients, including distress. emotional, social inhibition and low self-esteem. .
It was this situation that inspired design engineers Emmanuelle Pangilinan and Jason Pechardo of the University of the Philippines-Diliman to define and solve this problem with their invention-Brakong, which earned them the first prize in the Philippine stage. of this year’s James Dyson Award.
Brakong is a lightweight external breast form made from an aquatic plant called “bakong” which grows perennially in the northern region of the Philippines. The antimicrobial properties of the plant ensure that the prosthesis stays clean in the breast area. Through the use of 3D scanning technology, Brakong can be customized based on breast cancer body measurements.
Testimonials from breast cancer patients inspired Emmanuelle and Jason to continue their research and explore product development opportunities. The fact that the bakong, an aquatic plant native to the Philippines, has been an overlooked resource for years served as additional inspiration. The availability and affordability of raw materials throughout the year also motivated the two engineers to consider the circularity of the design, given that Brakong is an invention that can be recycled endlessly.
The duo are also proud that since their project is made from natural materials produced by farmers in the Cagayan Valley, the creation of brakong is sustainable and affordable.
“Since we have already invested in the machine and used very little material, it only costs P200,” Emmanuel told Manila Lifestyle Bulletin.
In 2020, Emmanuelle also won the James Dyson Award National Runner-up with her team’s project, Box Office, a complete workstation concept for those who need a work environment similar to an office cubicle. at home. The team plans to advance the multi-functional, foldable and portable design for further development.
Winning the national portion of the James Dyson Award will inject over P330,000 into the Brakong project which the team will use for further product development.
Currently, they are coordinating with the Design Center of the Philippines, the ICanServe Foundation, and several medical advisors to collect user feedback and guide their approach for future product upgrades.
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world. The Philippines has the highest incidence of this cancer in Asia. People we spoke to said they felt diminished as a woman and abnormal. Hearing and reading their personal stories is what drove us to advance our understanding and do more research,” they say. “We approached the problem with circularity in mind and developed Brakong, made from bakong.”
Following the ideation of the design in August 2021, it took them three months to fully shape the first Brakong prototype. The hardware development stage has proven difficult given that there are few or no previous studies focusing on the Bakong.
Recurring COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns across the Philippines have also posed challenges for the development of physical prototypes. The Brakong project will reach the international stage of the James Dyson Award. The international shortlist will be announced on October 12, 2022 and the international winners on November 16, 2022.
Emmanuelle and Jason are currently working on the next iteration for Brakong and looking to continue marketing. Beyond their Brakong invention, the young engineers hope to see a move towards circular design.
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