Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Joel Sadler - Celebrating a Jamaican inventor

Published:Sunday | April 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMWilliam Phillips
William Phillips

Throughout my four years in high school. I came to learn that it takes merely one person to make a difference for many others. I consider Joel Sadler, a man of passion, ambition and innovation, a prime example. From student to inventor then lecturer and now a co-founder of Piper Inc, Sadler has not only impacted the Unites States of America but virtually the global community.

At age 25, Joel Sadler led a team of mechanical engineering students to develop a prosthesis known as the Jaipur Knee.

It is made of " ... self-lubricating, oil-filled nylon, and is both flexible and stable...".

This prosthesis knee has enabled amputees in low income communities worldwide to live an easier life. Not only has Sadler improved the lives of American citizens, but the lives of citizens in developing countries around the world, such as India. My dream is to one day make such a difference to others.

Joel Sadler was born in Jamaica. He attended Wolmer's Preparatory School, then Campion College before studying engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

While pursuing his Mechanical Engineering graduate degree at the University of Stanford he faced a daunting challenge from his Biomedical Device Design and Evaluation course. The challenge was to create a low-cost, high performing prosthetic knee joint for amputees in developing countries.

Working in collaboration with the Jaipur Foot Group, a charity that provides prostheses to amputees in India, Sadler set out to design a budget friendly prosthetic knee joint.

Although the JFG already had an inexpensive prosthetic knee in place for the public's use, there were many emotional and psychological issues associated with the product. They wanted a new design constructed to replace it.

Sadler and his team studied the mechanics of high-end titanium knee joints in the US ranging from $10,000.00 to $100,000.00, and also materials used to build less expensive prosthetics for developing countries.

As a result they were able to redesign a versatile knee joint from "an oil-filled nylon polymer". Comprised of five pieces of plastic and four nuts and bolts, it requires no special tools. The resulting self-lubricating joint allowed greater flexibility and exceptional performance. Once the prototype was complete and multiple field tests were done throughout India with 43 models, the results proved that the invention was a success.

The conclusion was that the Jaipur Knee would last for a minimum of three years with normal use, costing its user a minimum of $20.00. Other countries Philippines, Bolivia, Cameroon, and Vietnam began to take interest. That was the result of what happens with an idea and like-minded individuals.


Huge impact


Joel Sadler also impacted the lives of children. He has co-founded a creative computing start-up company called Piper Inc. to inspire youngsters to make electronic devices. By raising $2.1 million in seed funding to support Piper's vision to "spark every child's inner inventor", Sadler was able to ship the Piper Computer Kit to thousands of children around the world. The children were able to build their own computer through a game-based learning platform.

Joel Sadler has sincerely impacted the lives of amputees around the world as well as mine. As a fellow individual of Jamaican parentage and a STEM enthusiast, Sadler has encouraged me to pursue my goals. His story relates to my dream to use technology to impact the lives of others.

This past year I developed a mobile application and received an award in recognition of assisting the lives of older adults. Never had it crossed my mind that I would make such a difference in someone's life at the age of 16. I aspire to continue making a difference for others like Joel Sadler has.

- William Phillips is a young American of Jamaican parentage, who was named the winner of the Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations Essay Competition. The competition is held each year for US citizens of Jamaican heritage who are tasked with writing about an issue or achievement related to Jamaica.