- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A 9-year-old South Bend girl has a new prosthetic arm thanks to Penn High School engineering students who worked all semester on a robotics project.

Grace Hildreth was born without half of her right arm, and has been limited for most of her life because her parents couldn’t afford to buy an expensive prosthetic arm. But all of that changed when the group of students connected with the family to create the artificial limb using primarily 3-D printers and plastic components.

Now she can shake hands, and she’s looking forward to playing on the monkey bars and tickling her little sister.

More than 200 filled the high school’s auditorium Wednesday to watch Grace demonstrate her new arm. A student-made film, “Hand of Grace,” documenting the project also was shown.

The students spent four to five months working on the prosthetic limb. Since the project was announced in December, the team took measurements, got to known Grace, perfected designs and waited on supplies.

Jim Langfeldt, one of the teachers who planned the project, acknowledges it was a hefty task for teenagers.

“It was a really steep learning curve,” he said. “The students found a lot of resources online but those were just resources. You really had to turn those into the design that we wanted to give to Grace.”

Upon reflection of what they helped make possible for the third-grader, many of the students said they initially were skeptical that they could handle the task.

“It didn’t seem like it would be possible. I almost thought, ‘No way, we’re just a bunch of high school kids. We don’t have real-life engineering experience. How can we do this?’” said senior Spencer Graf. “But when we finished the modeling and were ready to print the arm, it kicked in. We knew we could do it.”

Two different robotic arms were presented to Grace on Wednesday night, and a third currently is being printed. The team also plans to continue working on designs.

“I know that in the future she’s going to look back on this and it’s going to be one of those markers in her life,” said Grace’s mother, Olivia Hildreth.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide