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Mountwest professor and students develop artificial hand for six-year-old boy

December 16, 2015

Mountwest professor and students develop artificial hand for six-year-old boy

Christmas came early for a local boy whose wish list included something most people take for granted – a hand. Theodore Triplett, program coordinator of engineering design technology at Mountwest Community & Technical College, and his students presented Cooper, a six-year-old boy born without a left hand, with an artificial one that they developed using a 3D printer.

“People have asked me how I feel about working on this project,” said Triplett. “It’s just one of those things that you have to do. If you have the capability to fulfil this boy’s wish and need, how could you not?”

Triplett first heard about Cooper through a coworker at Mountwest who knew Cooper’s uncle. Work on the hand began at the start of the fall semester, and it was created using 3D printing technology within a week. Triplett and his students added functionality and worked to make it effective for a small child. Cooper and his family have visited Mountwest two times over the course of the semester for fittings, allowing Triplett and his students to make modifications until the hand was just right.

Mountwest professor and students develop artificial hand for six-year-old boyRandy and Barbara, Cooper’s grandparents, said he’s adapted well to only having one hand but this opportunity will open a whole new world for him. They said they were careful to never baby him, treating him and his twin brother Riley, who was born with both hands, the same. When asked what it meant to him and his family to receive a hand for Cooper, Randy’s eyes filled with tears and with a chuckle, he said, “I shouldn’t have to tell you; you can see it in my eyes.”

“We’re so grateful to Mountwest and Professor Triplett,” said Randy. “Cooper is so excited; he’s been asking every other day if it’s time to go get his hand.”

Cooper will be able to open and close the fingers of the hand using wrist movements. Triplett will begin working with his students in the spring to develop a new design that will give the artificial hand even more functionality. 

“The students are very proud of themselves, as they should be,” said Triplett. “I’m glad that I was able to use my skills and the resources available at Mountwest to help someone.”

For more information about Mountwest’s engineering design technology program, contact Ted Triplett at 304-710-3438 or triplettt@mctc.edu.