Inspiring Video- Indiana University Faculty Builds Arm with 3-D Printer

Inspiring Video- 3-D Printing Creates New Hand for Young Girl

Looking for an inspiring video to get you going today?

Jon Racek, senior lecturer, at Indiana University, created a prosthetic arm for a nine year old girl born without a hand using a 3-D printer.

The four minute video is wonderful to share with colleagues and students reminding us about the importance of using our skills to serve those in need.

He shares a bit about his career path-from being a successful designer with his work featured in national publications, but changed paths as he found it ultimately unfulfilling. As he moved careers and began teaching, he looked for ways to give back.

Then, he became acquainted with the family of the 9 year old girl who was born without a hand. They share their story of loss and frustration and ultimately great joy as she adapts to live with her new 3-D hand.

A very well done video and article. 

Want more inspiring tech stories? Click here to read about college students focused on using 3-D printing to help those in need.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What field did Jon Racek start out in?
  2. Why did he ultimately leave?
  3. What were Violet’s parents’ reactions when she was born with one hand?
  4. What activities did Violet engage in despite this challenge?
  5. How did Jon and the family connect?
  6. What was Jon’s experience with 3-D printing?
  7. How does 3-D printing work?
  8. What are some of the challenges in 3-D printing a prosthetic limb?
  9. What other uses for 3-D printing can you imagine?

EnableUC-Engineering Students Changing the World with 3D Printing

                                                           enableuc
EnableUC, a University of Cincinnati engineering student group, is on a mission.
Quite simply, they want to make your life better. This inspirational group, whose work on providing prosthetic limbs, created by 3-D printing to underprivileged individuals,  have taken the time to share their story with us.
Below, is an email interview primarily with Michael, member of EnableUC, edited only for clarity.
1. Can you tell Wide Open Research readers a bit about how you wanted to go into engineering and specifically how you chose to work on the prosthetics?
“For me personally, I always have wanted to help people out medically because I see it as one of the most immediate ways to improve someone’s life as well as get to work directly with the people you help.
As I explored majors and careers, however, I felt that my mind was more engineering driven. With this in mind, biomedical engineering just seemed like a perfect fit. I thought initially that a lot of BMEs do prosthetics and such, but the major is much more broad, and I never was really exposed to that world until Jacob, our president and founder, reached out to me about starting Enable UC.
I think Jacob really saw an opportunity through the larger E-nable open source site to help patients he had interacted with at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The prosthetics just seemed like a great way to provide a service that a lot of children don’t get because insurance usually only covers the cost of one prosthetic during their lifetime. Since kids are constantly growing, they don’t want to waste it at that age, but a lot of times. by the time a child is fully grown, they are so used to using their non defective hand that when they actually get a prosthetic, they don’t even use it. This helps  combat both of those issues.”

“The prosthetics just seemed like a great way to provide a service that a lot of children don’t get because insurance usually only covers the cost of one prosthetic during their lifetime.”

2.  What sort of general knowledge did you learn in high school that was foundational for your engineering success at college? Concepts, skills, facts, etc. 
“I would say the biggest thing I learned is how to solve problems. While the classes I take here can sometimes be much different than my high school classes, I would say the science and math I took began to help me find ways to solve problems, and that is really what an engineer’s job is all about. So take that physics class or that engineering foundations class. They will help you begin to turn those engineering gears in your head.”

“So take that physics class or that engineering foundations class. They will help you begin to turn those engineering gears in your head.”

3. How much time do you commit to the Enable team and how do you balance your class responsibilities? What advice would you give high school students on managing the demands of college….
“I personally work on a lot of the upfront patient relations of the enable team, so a lot of my time was spent up front finding patients for us to design solutions for.
While this takes some time, I would say the best things to do are to be realistic with your time, schedule it out, and write down the things you want to accomplish and get done with each task.
The biggest advice I would give to a high schooler transitioning into college is to establish habits early and stick to them because they will create your patterns for the rest of your career. “
4.  What are some cool science/tech things you wished you would have explored more in high school?
“I wish I would have explored more of the cutting edge devices and tech magazines out there because those can spark creativity and help you understand the trajectory of science and tech moving forward.
Things like 3D printing, unique clean energy solutions, nano-technology, and more are really cool things that show how much our world is constantly innovating and creating new solutions to the many problems we have in our world.”

“I wish I would have explored more of the cutting edge devices and tech magazines out there because those can spark creativity….”

5. Did you have any moments in high school where it really became apparent that you wanted to go into engineering? Any classes or teachers that really inspired you?
“I don’t remember their being a really strong moment for me in terms of an ah-ha moment, but I do remember absolutely loving designing both a mouse trap car and a Rube Goldberg device during my science classes in high school.
What I think I loved was figuring out how to best solve the problem and doing so in a group setting that allowed me to work with and understand a team and how each individual works within that team to solve our problem.”

6.  With the many distractions that high school students face these days, how would you recommend teachers really engage students?
“I think one really unique way to do this would be to challenge them at the beginning to tell me some cool things they might want to learn from the subject and having them outline some of what they want to get out of the class besides just an A.
I think if that could then be tied in more deeply with the lesson plans, that would help engage students because they would feel they had an active part in determining their learning.”
7. Any  luck with the crowd funded project?
“We have had some awesome luck with it. We reached our initial goal to provide funding for our first myo-electric prosthetic project, which is currently in the design process already! We think our unique organization allows students to really get hands on experience and change lives. This translates really well to people who might have a few bucks to get rid of. I think we will continue to see this success moving forward as well.”
A hand they made from 3-D printing:
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8.  I know  that Enable UC was interested in helping high school students who might not know much about engineering become exposed to the field. What sort of outreach have you been working on?
“We have done some local Cincinnati high school outreach where we are basically trying to get students exposed to what we do by showing them our organization as well as providing seminars about engineering, design, Solidworks, etc.
This fall we presented to hundreds of local high schoolers at UC to try to draw them towards engineering. We also plan to go into schools and set up those seminars that I mentioned, but we are in the early stages of our outreach.”

“This fall we presented to hundreds of local high schoolers at University of Cincinnati to try to draw them towards engineering.”

9. Any good ideas about how to help more “non-traditional” students become interested in engineering?
“I think the best way to get non-traditional students to really get interested in engineering is to relate it to their interests. For example, maybe they are an athlete. Being able to teach them about the forces their muscles provide when doing their sport could make them interested in engineering. Just finding ways to relate engineering concepts to their interests is the best way to pique someone’s interest.”
After graduation Michael is going to be working in a tech-start-up, other UCEnable members are continuing their studies in medical school, graduate school, and work in the medical device industry.
EnableUC is still seeking to serve. So, if you would like to contact them to get more information about their group or if you know someone who could benefit from their work on prosthetics please reach out to them @EnableUC.
For more reading on 3-D Printing, please read this article:

Saving Money With 3-D Printing-Michigan Tech University Research

Does your school have a 3-d printer? If not, why not?

Not only does the 3-d printer have many great educational uses, new research from Michigan Tech University professor Joshua Pearce reveals they can save money too.

According to the research,most households, by making simple household products once per week can make their money back within 6 months and have a 1,000% return on their investment within 5 years.

But aren’t they hard to use and require lots of training and set-up costs?

Not so much. One of the best aspects of the research was that the products were all created by a novice. The subject, engineering student Emily Petersen had never used a personal 3-d printer before. Within a mere sixty minutes of activating the printer, she was off and running, well printing.

She ultimately printed 26 household objects to exemplify how using the printer could have tremendous utility for any personal household, being able to print anything from shower heads, drinking cups, cabinet pulls, to toys for the kids. I definitely want to check one out to see if it as easy to use as they say, because to be honest, technology and I do not always see eye to eye! (Thank goodness I have wonderful teenageers at home to help me!)

What amazing creations would your students come up with? As you know, one of the primary mindsets we are encouraging with our blog, Wide Open Research, is to encourage students to be actively engaged learners-learning both the academic foundation, but also creating, making, doing, experimenting. In short, making the learning come alive. This article provides great “data” for a teacher to advocate to their principal or administrative folks to seek ways to get a 3-D printer and other technology available for their students. 

Definitely check out MTU writer Stefanie Sidortsova’s piece  on professor Pearce’s research as it features a brief video of the 3-D printer in action. I definitely want the little green octopus!

Questions for Discussion

  1. What would you make?
  2. How does it work?
  3. What are the potential societal implications of this? What happens if the new knob you printed ruins your washing machine- is the warranty void? Who is liable if a product you print hurts someone?
  4. How could this impact the economy?
  5. What are some more benefits besides, the economic ones?
  6. What will be the next step, after 3-d printing?

What else does this inspire you to “learn, dream, do?”

To read more from Wide Open Research about 3-d Printing, please click here.

Inspired Research at the University of Cincinnati

It is easy to be frustrated by the world of education these days, when every decision both internally and externally becomes a conflict-when protecting egos and turf are prime motivators, when hyper-competitiveness seems to crush the joy of learning on many days. Sigh…. 

So, I am always grateful to come across an a story  that inspires me and reaffirms my hope in our students, for our future. 

If you are looking for such an article, please check out Jac Kern’s excellent piece in the University of Cincinnati magazine, about a student led engineering society, EnableUC, who decided to put their love of engineering to good use- to help make low-cost prosthetic devices for pediatric patients.

It focuses on the president of the campus group, an exceptional person, Jacob Knorr, who is focused not only on serving  the needs of those who might benefit from their prosthetic technology, but  he is eager to share his love of engineering with high school students, especially those that might not have access to engineering mentors.

Knorr is quoted in the article,” We’re working on high school outreach to get that next generation of students interested so they can go to school for engineering.”

It is my sincere hope that Knorr and EnableUC succeed in their mission of inspiring students not to only become engineers, but to use their talents and gifts to serve those who are less fortunate.

If all of us adult educators would keep focused on that same mission, what a beautiful world we could create. Thanks for the great article and keep up the great work, EnableUC!

The article has a link to their upcoming plans and projects for a low-cost battery powered prosthetic hand that the group is working on. Please share with your friends! 

Leave a comment below and let us know who in the world of research is inspiring you these days!

Questions for Discussion

  1. How has 3-D printing revolutionized prosthetic development?
  2. What parts of the world might benefit most from this low-cost technology?
  3. What is the dual mission of EnableUC?
  4. What new technology is EnableUC trying to develop?
  5. What other ideas could your students do to use 3-d printing to help those in need?
  6. What are 5 things in your classroom that were developed by engineers or designers?

What else does this inspire you to “learn,dream,do?”

Another Wide Open Research post about outreach with 3-d Printers.

3-d Printing Outreach at University of New Hampshire.

pond-view

For an inspiring read on bridging the gap between the University and the K-12 system, one of the missions of this blog, please check out Kristen Bulger’s article on University of New Hampshire professor, Yaning Li. Li is assistant professor of mechanical engineering who specializes in auxetic spiral composites.

According to Bulger, these materials, “can flex and stretch easily, making them useful in biomedical applications as well as in cushioning for helmets, where they excel in absorbing energy.”

Li, utilizes a 3-d printer which allows her to not only test the material and create with it, but to interact with k-12 students and educators who will clearly benefit from the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning.

Thanks for the article and for the award-winning professor’s efforts at educational outreach, helping to make academic research accessible to the next generation of “dreamers, learners, and makers!”

Questions for Discussion

  1. How would you describe auxetic spiral composites?
  2. What are their physical characteristics when stretched and compressed?
  3. What are some possible uses for this material, according to the article?
  4. What other uses can you imagine for this material?
  5. What background knowledge is necessary to understand the properties of this material?
  6. Does your school have a 3-d printer- how is it used with students?
  7. What else does this inspire you to “dream, learn, do?”