Jul 24, 2023 - Education

Delivering 3D-printed prosthetics to Ecuador

Students in navy t-shirts hold up 3D-printed prosthetic limbs.

Gabriel Leonard and Daniela Moreno show off some of the 3D-printed prosthetics they've made at the Great Lakes Science Center. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Three students who participated in the Great Lakes Science Center's robotics initiative will travel to Ecuador this week to deliver 3D-printed prosthetic limbs to four children there.

Why it matters: The Science Center's initiative is a partnership with CMSD to increase the participation of historically underserved communities in robotics, part of a broader mission to make STEM careers more accessible.

Details: In collaboration with the nonprofit IMAHelps, students designed and fabricated custom prosthetics for children in Ecuador who otherwise would not have access to them.

Between the lines: JonDarr Bradshaw, the Science Center's community engagement coordinator and director of the robotics lab, said doctors often don't bother with prosthetic limbs for children, especially in developing countries, because their bodies grow and change so quickly.

  • The 3D printers at the Science Center's lab make designing and fabricating the prosthetics straightforward and economical.

What they're saying: "We're changing lives," Bradshaw said.

  • "The young people who participate in this program are inner-city kids whose greatest ambition might have been to work at Walmart," he said.
  • "Now, instead of waiting for someone to come save the day for them, they realize they have the power to make things better for themselves, their families and people around the world."

What we're watching: The students leave Thursday and will provide regular video dispatches from their journey.

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