Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Craig Friedrich

Advisor 2

Kari Henquinet

Committee Member 1

David Watkins


Design and development of personal protective equipment products for workers using machetes (MPPE) is considered in the specific context of indigenous Ngäbe subsistence farmers in a small, rural community in Bocas del Toro, Panama where the author spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2017-2019. People in this community regularly suffer significant health and economic impacts due to accidents with machetes, which are essential tools in their farm work and daily lives. The history, criticisms, and recent frameworks related to product design and development in resource-poor markets is examined, and specific details of the problem of machete injuries within the local context are described using the author’s personal experiences and a series of household interviews. This information is used as a framework to develop design considerations and requirements, and strategies for effective, sustainable product implementation and business model development. Ideas for specific MPPE products like protective socks and gloves made from high-tech, cut- and impact-resistant materials are presented, as well as business model suggestions that involve local manufacturing, distribution, and marketing.