Building A Hand

CbaznlvXEAAMvp3By her senior year in high school, Batool had actively avoided taking a technology class because technology “did not work for her.” However, it was during a technology course that Batool watched a 3D printer making various student projects and began discussing the possibilities of creating a 3D printed prosthetic device. Batool recognized that there was a strong need for prosthetic devices in her country of Iraq. She became curious about the feasibility of bringing the 3D printing technology to Iraq in order to provide prosthesis to those in need. I had the incredible honor of mentoring Batool during this project, and her journey was profoundly inspiring.

In order to design a prosthetic, Batool first had to find an amputee that she could work with. She went to three different hospitals in Iraq looking for a doctor that would be willing to connect her with a patient in need of a prosthetic. Through unwavering perseverance, Batool found a doctor and they were able to contact a man, Mustafa, who had lost his fingers at the age of two, and who had never been able to afford a prosthetic. With the connection made, Batool returned to Jordan and began researching available 3D prosthetic models available online.

A volunteer community in the United States, e-Nabling The Future, had designed and created six prosthetic devices that could be printed with a 3D printer, and then assembled by the user. The prosthetic print files were made available for free and their website included an application that allowed the print files to be customized for each amputee. Through email, Batool communicated with the doctor in Iraq who took Mustafa’s measurements for the prosthetic device. Batool was then able to download the customized 3D print files for the prosthetic device and prepare them for the 3D printer.

At school, Batool began printing out the parts for the prosthetic, only to confront her lifelong challenge with technology. The 3D printer did not always print out the parts as planned, and at one point Batool realized that she did not have one of the most important parts needed for her device. Using Design Thinking skills, research, and repeated trial-and-error, Batool was able to successfully print out all of the parts she would need for her device. Meanwhile, all of the additional assembly materials that she had ordered from the United States were slowly making their way through the Jordanian customs. In order to receive the parts, Batool had to write multiple formal letters to the school and theFile_000 customs department in order to have the parts released to her.

Batool did not have experience in assembling much of anything, but now she was tasked with building a prosthetic device for an increasingly anxious man. Using written and video tutorials, Batool slowly pieced together the prosthetic. Each day, piece-by-piece, the prosthetic device came to life until one morning, Batool arrived at school, with a completed, fully-functioning prosthetic. Batool continued to fine-tune the device until she was absolutely certain that the prosthetic would perform to her expectations. Finishing her classes at the end of the week, Batool boarded a plane, and headed to Iraq, ready to present Mustafa with his new hand.

Throughout the entire project, Batool encountered many obstacles that seemed insurmountable. It was her passion and commitment to the project that pushed her through the struggles and frustration. Knowing that she had the potential to create a beneficial impact on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of another person, Batool persevered and succeeded in building her prosthetic device.