After two weeks of hard work in the Maker Lab, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy students showed their 3-D printed prosthetic hands off in the foyer of the library Wednesday afternoon.
The project was one in a series for the students’ class, Intro to Making, meant to use 3-D printing technology to create projects to ease difficulties people may face with everyday tasks.
Dr. Hope Martin, program director and chair of the occupational therapy program, said the founders of the profession of occupational therapy were a physician, a psychologist, an architect and a psychiatrist. In incorporating the Intro to Making course to the program, Martin wanted to return to the origins of the profession- the value of being able to make, and the community and processes that follow.
“I was thinking, what a great opportunity to incorporate a place where we do make into the curriculum not only to give them innovative skills that address this day in age, but also to reflect the founding of the profession,” she said.
The group work helped students to work together in navigating the new technology that, more than likely, will impact their professional lives.
“Prostheses are generally expensive, and when this gets honed to a smaller level or on a grand scale, people are doing it more often, it seems like some very expensive health tools could be available to the public that they weren’t available to prior,” Martin said.
Jenn Moran, a first-year student in the occupational program, said the project took about 15 hours in total to complete.
“I’ve always had kind of a passion for prosthetics, so it was really cool to kind of implement that into our classwork,” she said. “It’s really neat to see how we can implement the 3-D printers to make a prosthetic hand that’s more affordable, and it does just as good of a job as one of the prosthetics that are like $30,000.”
The first-year students worked on one other project prior to the prosthetic hands. Challenged to develop a knife that could be adapted to a certain population, the students made knives for those who do not have a strong grip, or any grip at all, as well as safe knives for a pediatric population.
“I’m just really proud that the students have embraced it, and honestly, I’m astonished and amazed at the creativity they’ve come up with,” Martin said. “It’s way more than I anticipated.”
For their third project, the students will be given fewer restrictions on what to create. Instead, they are encouraged to base the project off a population that has a need.
Martin credits Nil Santana, associate professor of art and design, and Lyndell Lee, educational technology specialist, for the success of the course so far and for the students’ ability to create such projects with the advanced technology.