Students to make prosthetic arms, hands for amputees in Colombia

Engineering students from the University of Rhode Island will travel to Colombia this summer to build prosthetic hands and arms for amputees, according to a press release. They have received a $25,000 federal grant.

“It is a meaningful and enriching project for our students, and we are honored to receive this prestigious award,’’ Silke Scholz, MBA, director of the Spanish International Engineering Program at the University of Rhode Islands (URI), said in the release. “The grant also affirms URI’s commitment to community service and global studies.”

The award, called the Sustainable Prostheses: An All-Inclusive Approach to Designing in the Americas, is a collaboration with SENA Centro Nacional Colombo Alemán in Barranquilla, Colombia. The competition is funded by ExxonMobil Corp. and open to higher education institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Mexico and Colombia, the release noted.

Faculty and students from the SENA organization will visit URI in June to work on the designs. They will create the artificial arms and hands with a 3-D printer, based on measurements and specifications from patients in Colombia.

In August, four URI engineering students will join Scholz and Kunal Mankodiya, PhD, MSc, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at URI, in to Colombia to refine the prostheses and work with the amputees. URI and the Colombian organization will present the project during the Colloquium in International Engineering Education Annual Meeting in November.

“When I heard about this project, I was touched by the potential technology we can develop for people with amputated limbs,” Mankodiya said in the release. “It is fulfilling to work with a team from another country whose members speak another language but face similar challenges. It is also fascinating to me that the artificial limbs will be created through virtual team collaboration between two countries. URI is making its mark on the world stage by reaching out to an international community that needs help.”


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