Prosthetic hand made by the Phi Theta Kappa club at
Butte College using a 3D printer, helped the group win
several awards at a recent conference in Washington, D.C.
By Dani Anguiano, Chico Enterprise-Record
Prosthetic hand made by the Phi Theta Kappa club at Butte College using a 3D printer, helped the group win several awards at a recent conference in Washington, D.C. Contributed photo
Butte Valley >> A group of Butte College students are literally giving a helping hand to children in need.
Members of the Phi Theta Kappa club at Butte College helped to create three prosthetic hands using a 3D printer at the college. They entered the project in a competition held at the national annual convention of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society of two-year colleges, in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. The group took home three awards for their project, beating out hundreds of other chapters across in the county. The hands will be donated to children in need in developing countries.
The seven students involved with the club came up with idea to build prosthetic hands as one of their two main projects for the year to submit at the convention.
Club members selected club vice president of communication Kevin Gomes to print and assembled the hands. Gomes has an associate’s degree in drafting and technology, and was able to download free internet files to print the parts needed to construct the hands.
“They’re mechanical, so if their hand is gone but they have the wrist, you can put the wrist in and the fingers actually respond,” Phi Theta Kappa member Ben Mallory said.
The club collaborated with the organization Enabling The Future — a network of volunteers who use 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need — to donate two of the hands to children in developing countries. The group was particularly interested in donating prosthetic devices to children as the devices are often expensive and children don’t usually have access to them.
“The problem with prosthetics is that they’re extremely expensive. With these younger kids, they don’t get prosthetics because not only are they extremely expensive, but the kids are continuously growing, so it can only last for so long before they have to get a new one which has to be refitted and resized,” Mallory said.
It cost the group just $100 to print and assemble each prosthetic hands, whereas a traditional prosthetic hand can cost upward of $1,000, Gomes said.
The group donated the third prosthetic hand to the drafting department at Butte College.
“We donated it to the drafting department to inspire future drafting students,” Gomes said.
At the Phi Theta Kappa convention, the group won two awards for their project as well as a Distinguished Chapter Award, while Gomes received the Distinguished Officer Award. Only 35 out of 1,289 chapters across the country received the Distinguished Chapter Award. Gomes was recognized with the award along with 29 other community college students from around the country.
“Our honor society students are very excited to gain this recognition for their hard work. They feel truly rewarded knowing that valuable skills were gained through these service learning experiences, and that they made an impact on our campus and community,” Phi Theta Kappa advisor Brian Donnelly said.
While the students were honored by the recognition they received and excited about the time they spent exploring Washington, they said they were most excited that they were able to help people in need.
“The awards are nice, but in the end they are just awards. But actually having an impact on someone, that’s really neat. It’s an inspiring feeling,” Mallory said.
“To be able to actually help someone completely across the globe wasn’t something I was expecting to have the opportunity to do at Butte College,” Gomes said.