Hanford High Engineering Club builds hand for fellow student - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford High Engineering Club builds hand for fellow student

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RICHLAND, WA - Hanford High School junior Fiona Kirkham started the school year with two working hands; that’s one more hand than she had last year….and quite important for the aspiring artist.

Four members of the Hanford High School Engineering Club gave up their summer Saturdays to build a new hand for Fiona who was born without a left hand. The engineers are Adrianna Iturba, Kimberly McKinnon, Samuel McKinnon, and Matthew Roohr.  After learning about the need, club mentors Michael Catalan and Christine McKinnon asked the HHS engineers if they would be willing to attempt the project. Meanwhile, Fiona said she would be willing to work with her fellow students to create a 3-D printed hand.

            The club raised money to purchase the 3-D printer and the other parts needed for Fiona’s hand.  They used the Cura software program and a basic design from E-nable (www.enablingthefuture.org) to start building the hand. 

           “The student engineers assembled the hand from thermal form plastic and strung ‘tendons’ to help it grab objects,” explains mentor Christine McKinnon. “They encountered a few obstacles along the way….like printing the wrong hand or missing critical screws. The second hand went faster and turned out better than the first. The learning experiences along the way would be very familiar to any real world engineer.”

            Fiona’s new hand can grab and hold objects with the fingers shutting as she bends her arm. Fiona has helped identify areas where the design could be better including a superior way to maintain the tension in the tendons and an improved thumb design. Fiona helped every step of the way, learning that engineers have diverse backgrounds. The club has benefited from her artistic background. The engineers are now working on version two of the hand, learning from the first.