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Students in Summer STEM Program Help Create Prosthetics for People Using 3-D Printing

Hand in Hand STEM students.jpg
John Smith/WAER News
Students participating in the Hand in Hand STEM learning program examine a prosthetic hand. The program taught them to design prosthetics that will be used by actual recipients here and in Africa.

A group of 40 local high school students is participating in a two-week STEM program to teach them what goes into making prosthetics. Volunteer recipients of prosthetic hands were measured on Monday at LeMoyne College, as part of the program. Nottingham High School 10th grader Zion Perry says he’s gaining knowledge about how a prosthetic device works.

“We learn which way the elbow moves in the string, and where it moves is going to control the fingers. So that’s what we’re going to be making.”

He first joined the summer STEAM program two years ago … and now he’s hooked.

“It’s made my interest in this type of stuff skyrocket. And that we’re still doing this is a blessing.”

One of the volunteers Ken Sieperman is being fitted for a new 3-D printed prosthetic hand. He wants the students to know they could impact the improvement of adaptive devices that people rely on.

“Being an amputee, I know what it meant to me. And as the technology changes, it’s different than the one I have today. And as the 3-D printing technology improves, that can be a gateway to other amputees in the future.”

Hand in Hand STEM measuring.jpg
John Smith/WAER News
Ken Sieperman gets measured for an artificial hand that will be made by students in the Hand in Hand program. He's being measured by Mint Tienpasertkij , a science educator with the program.

In addition to recipients here in Syracuse, the program also will result in prosthetic devices being designed and 3-D printed for recipients in Ghana. The students are chosen for their interest in the STEM topics with an emphasis on underrepresented groups in Syracuse.

“Measuring Day” is made possible by the AT&T “Hand in Hand” program and the CNY STEM Hub. Spokesperson Kevin Hanna says beyond the conceptual knowledge students gain, it especially impacts students when they are introduced to the people who will ultimately benefit from their work. Volunteers will get their assistive devices in the fall.

This story has been edited to correct spelling and format.