Middle school mentoring students engineer creative prostheses in design challenge

On Saturday, November 16, over 60 middle school and college students wielded plungers, bubble wrap and duct tape in a design challenge to construct a functional prosthetic leg. The activity was part of the OEOP Middle School Mentoring Program, which matches undergraduate and graduate mentors with middle school students from Boston, Cambridge and Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The design challenge began with an introduction to common biomedical engineering terms and an overview of the engineering design process. Mentors and mentees then broke off into small groups and began sketching and building prosthesis prototypes from a limited supply of household items. In the end, the teams were judged on their prostheses’ comfort, durability and usability.

The design challenge was partially funded by the NSF Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, a partnership between MIT, the University of Washington, and San Diego State University that works to develop robust and adaptive closed-loop interaction between human nervous systems and sensorimotor devices.