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Creating an Exoskeleton to Protect Firefighters

Raised toward our $3,000 Goal
42 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on April 09, at 12:59 AM EDT
Project Owners

Team EXO


We are Team EXO, a student-run undergraduate research team operating in the Gemstone Honors program at UMD. We consist of STEM majors, primarily Engineering Students, who are developing an exoskeleton for use by firefighters. This exoskeleton will address the issue of injuries sustained by firefighters while on the job and assist with their jobs. Our exoskeleton will need to be fireproof and compatible with firefighter gear, which are unique challenges for an exoskeleton. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to bringing to market a safe, comfortable, practical, and affordable exoskeleton that fire companies will use and will assist firefighters in doing their jobs and staying safe.


The first step of our methodology was conducting interviews with firefighters to collect more information regarding what our exoskeleton needs to accomplish and what it should look like. We are using this information to decide what problems we want to focus on solving with our exoskeleton. This will also help us identify potential concerns and things that we need to focus on when creating our design. After these interviews, we determined that preventing lower back injuries would be our focus.

Next in our process is to begin designing a passive exoskeleton that will provide support to the lower back and knees of firefighters. Our initial designs are rough drafts, but as we continue to analyze previous exoskeleton designs we will move closer to making our first testable prototype. We plan to include in our designs: the main body shape, springs, dampeners, and a mechanism that allows for full range of motion. As we develop more drawings we can begin to implement more detailed features such as dimensions and measurements.

After this we would be looking to develop our first prototype using scrap materials, or others that are cost efficient. We will conduct initial strain tests in a lab and hopefully gain an understanding of how much support our design gives to the firefighter. We will continue the cycle of designing, testing, and analyzing, until we feel that we have a quality design that provides as much physical support and comfort as possible.

While we can primarily use scrap materials for our designs, having a larger budget would allow us to test multiple prototypes with materials that would actually be used during a fire call. Heat resistant materials can be expensive and our goal is to work with these materials as much as we can afford to. 


As a team in the Gemstone program, our project will take three years from start to finish. Year one our team will be primarily focused on collecting research, conducting interviews with firefighters, narrowing the team’s focus, and beginning the design process. The second year will be entirely focused on design and prototyping. In the third year we will finish prototyping and testing, then write and present our thesis in front of a panel.

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Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax advisor for details.

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This is our lowest tier, but each donation counts!



Thanks for helping us out! This level of donation should be enough for us to cover regular costs of doing our research.



You are a big help towards our goals! This is enough money to help us buy some materials for our prototype.


Battalion Chief

Thanks so much! With donations like this, we can attend conferences and present our ideas to other researchers, making our prototype much more likely to reach the market!


Assistant Chief

Wow! You really want firefighters to be safe! Thank you so much! With this kind of money we can really take our project to the next level!


Fire Chief

Thank you so much!

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