How do 10 high school seniors get on the “Oprah” show? By creating a useful prosthetic hand for $65 — or at least that’s what one senior hopes.
A group of students from Catholic Central High School’s pre-engineering class has developed a simple, low-cost prosthetic hand called the Handy Typer. It is designed to help someone who has lost a hand type more easily and quickly.
The class was inspired by Mike Martin, a religion teacher at the school who lost his dominate left hand while in his teens.
“He really struggles when it comes to typing, holding papers and passing them out, so we tried to develop something that he can easily wear to help him with his typing,” said a student.
The project was part of a national competition offered by the Junior Engineering Technical Society, a national nonprofit educational organization that promotes engineering and technology careers to young people. For the competition, each team had to develop a product to help those with a disability.
The team went to a Lowe’s Home Improvement store, picked out some supplies and began to use their imaginations. The Handy Typer fastens to the user’s forearm with two straps. The end is padded for the user’s comfort, and extending out in place of a hand are two small curved prongs. The prongs are coated so as to not to damage the keys on a keyboard and strategically spaced for faster, more accurate typing.
Martin has been using the Handy Typer for several weeks.
“I’m amazed at how much easier it is than what I’ve been dealing with for the past 10 years,” said Martin, who had previously been typing with one hand or writing on paper. “It’s at the dawn of the application for me. If we were to revisit in September, I would know even more of the fruit of this.”
The pre-engineering class began two years ago and is led by Jeanine Gasper, who before earning her master’s degree in education was an engineer with URS Corp. After receiving her master’s in 2005, Gasper began teaching physics at Catholic Central. In her second year, she was approached about starting a pre-engineering class and jumped at the chance.
Next up, the class will take a trip to Washington, D.C., Feb. 25-27 for the competition’s finals, which will include five teams. Each team will make a 20-minute presentation and will also make a poster and showcase their product.
The Catholic Central students continue to make improvements to the Handy Typer and hope to patent their product and break into the $7.9 billion prosthetic market.