By Gary Lloyd
Two Hewitt-Trussville High School students’ robotic arm project won the National Society of Professional Engineers Outstanding Achievement Award earlier this month.
Darby Franklin and Bella Goubeaux’s “Sip and Puff Robotic Arm Exoskeleton for a Quadriplegic” won the award and finished in third place in the engineering division at the Central Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair at UAB.
The girls, along with other seniors in Chris Walters’ biomedical innovations class, had been designing the arm prosthetic for Jamison Franklin, a Hewitt-Trussville graduate and quadriplegic as a result of an off-road automobile accident in January 2011.
The arm, Walters said earlier this year, is made up of two systems. One is a mechanical system consisting of motors, gears and the arm. The class has a full elbow brace and motors, and the group is testing to see if it can use the motors to raise the brace. The brace serves as the hinge joint simulating the elbow. The class will also have to design a hand component that will run with another motor. The mechanical system would then be linked to Franklin’s sip-and-puff system, which would allow him to control the arm with his breath, and he’d be able to control a one-direction movement of the arm
The other piece of the design is electrical stimulation, which will trigger the contraction and relaxation of the particular muscles to reduce atrophy.
Taylor Allen, Jaden Cowan, Andrew Cox and Usman Ghani won honorable mention in the engineering division with their “A 21st Century Modification to the Insulin Pump” project. Allyson Bailes, Payton Davis, Autumn Helton, Jay Rucks and Tyler Waldrep won an honorable mention in the biology division with their “An Alternative Method for Creating a Waste Treatment System” project.
There were 33 Hewitt-Trussville students from the Biomedical Sciences Academy and Engineering Academy that participated in the fair. Schools from Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Dekalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Randolph, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega and Walker counties competed in the fair.
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