Two UF students are planning to make 100 prosthetic arms by August to give to children in less developed countries.
Candelaria Baez, a UF chemical engineering senior, and Arthi Balasubramaniam, a UF psychology junior, cofounded their nonprofit Outreach3D to build free prosthetic arms for children in South America, the Middle East and South Asia, Baez, 23, said.
These limbs will cost about $20 each and be made at Florida Polytechnic University’s Rapid Application Development Makerspace Lab, which has 55 3-D printers and digital object scanners, Baez said.
To fund the project, the two raised $880 between Saturday’s Heartwood Music Festival and Sunday’s Active Streets Gainesville but will need an additional $1,120 to create the prosthetic arms by Aug. 1, Baez said.
Working with another student at Florida Polytechnic, Baez and Balasubramaniam will make prosthetics that use the movements of muscles in the residual limb to open and close the hand, Balasubramaniam, 20, said.
This design is made using plastic, elastic cord, fishing line and velcro straps, she said. Because of this, it is less expensive than most prosthetics, which use sensors, batteries and small motors and cost thousands of dollars.
The two UF students plan to travel abroad to personally deliver some of the prosthetics, focusing on South America first.
“Rather than just being a part of one medical innovation, we can actually travel to these places and spark the minds of children to actually become engineers and teach them these principles,” Baez said.
For Balasubramaniam, an aspiring pediatrician, the reward for building prosthetic arms is in knowing these children will be able to do simple actions like play on a swing set or hold a bottle of water.
“I have a passion for helping to improve the lives of children and I saw this as a great opportunity,” she said.