Local students have teamed up with area organizations to lend some helping hands to kids in need.
Rocky Hill School’s Interact Club and the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) Rotaract Club, sponsored by East Greenwich Rotary’s New Generations program, came together on Thursday to assemble 15 3D printed prosthetic hands that will be used by children in Kigali, Rwanda. Five more unassembled prosthetic hands will be shipped to an Interact Club in Rwanda, where they will be assembled and distributed within their community.
“It’s been really great to be able to offer something to the larger global community,” said Megan Caruso, a Warwick resident and senior at Rocky Hill. “We’ve worked together and learned technology because of the whole programming and printing part.”
Rocky Hill School’s Interact Community Service Club, which is made up of students in grades 7-12, has aligned with the nonprofit Enable Community Foundation, which connects with schools to help produce prosthetic hands with 3D printers. The hands are assembled by students and distributed to amputee children in need throughout the world. These “raptor” hands give the children the ability to grip items.
Instructors and students in NEIT’s Mechanical Engineering Technology Department printed the hand parts using an Objet 30 Prime Polyjet 3D printer with RGD720 Full Cure material. It takes nearly 16 hours to print the parts and materials cost about $50 per hand. The East Greenwich Rotary donated $750 the printing costs and secured a matching donation of $750 from a Rotary District grant. The Rocky Hill students obtained hardware needed for the hands and raised more than $1,000 to sponsor those costs.
Students from NEIT, Rocky Hill and members of the East Greenwich Rotary came together on Thursday to tour NEIT’s Mechanical Engineering Lab, where the hands were printed. After their tour, members of all three clubs alike sat together at tables to assemble the hands and prepare them for shipment to Rwanda. They laughed and interacted with each other as they followed instructional videos that helped them learn which parts fit where.
“It’s a team effort to put these together, and it’s just a great feeling to know they’re going to help people,” Grant Van Eck of the East Greenwich Rotary.
Allison DeGerlia, who now attends Ursinas College and founded Rocky Hill’s Interact club two years ago when she was a junior at the school, said the club came up with the idea of building the hands last year. The Syrian refugee crisis was fresh in their minds and they wanted to create something that would help children impacted by traumatic events.
“We thought, wow, imagine losing a hand as a kid, getting back the ability to grab stuff, and how impactful that would be,” she said.
The East Greenwich Rotary New Generations program focuses on engaging students in community service and teaching them about Rotary initiatives. Rotary Clubs around the globe sponsor Interact Clubs (grades 7-12) and Rotaract Clubs (college level) as a way to connect with and support students who want to give back to their communities. The program is actively involved with students at East Greenwich High School, Cole Middle School, Rocky Hill School and New England Institute of Technology.
In addition, the Rotary Club sponsors students who wish to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, a student-run community service and leadership program held for a weekend each spring. The club is especially excited about the prosthetic hand project introduced by the Rocky Hill School Interact Club last year, which has expanded to include the New England Tech Rotaract Club.