When they discovered that they both knew injured people who had to use wheelchairs that could cost up to $2,100, Mr Keldrick Tan, 19, and Miss Chua Xin Yan, 20, decided to create a cheaper version of the device.
The Temasek Polytechnic (TP) students managed to turn an office chair into a wheelchair with just a clamp and two wheels.
It cost only $61 to build, said Mr Tan. And if mass produced, it could cost as low as $41, he added. Their product even won the gold award at the Cool Ideas for Better HDB Living Competition last August.
The duo also produced a modified mop and pail for the elderly, where users would not need to bend over to pick it up. It bagged a merit award at the same competition.
Their supervisor, Mr Hong Geok Hua, 59, a senior lecturer at TP's School of Engineering, said: "They had to understand the problem very well, and it had to be very simple, very low-cost and viable."
The two students were also part of a team of eight students who developed a smart wheelchair for dementia and elderly patients.
It won the bronze and $3,000 at the Land Transport Authority's Engineering Challenge last year.
Their motorised smart wheelchair is equipped with motion sensors and Global Positioning System technology.
Team member Dylan Berlandier, 20, said the wheelchair can take its user home at the flip of a switch.
It can also follow a caregiver walking in front of it.
Mr Berlandier said that besides being in school from 9am to 5pm, they often stayed until midnight to work on the project.
He said: "It was a good feeling for us to finally sit and not control it."
Mr Hong said: "It is very enriching working with young people. It is good they are not easily satisfied with a solution."
The team said their aim was to give back to society.
The Straits Times had earlier reported that dementia affects an estimated one in 10 people aged over 60 here.
By 2030, the number of citizens older than 65 will have more than doubled from the current level to 960,000. And 92,000 of them will live alone.
Team member Nicholas Ng, 19, said: "If no one helps them then who will? By helping them, maybe we will help ourselves in the future. Everyone grows old."
A total of 55 projects were exhibited yesterday as part of TP's annual open house, which ends at 6pm today.
This article was first published on January 7, 2017.
Get The New Paper for more stories.