Four-year-old Hudson Borton extended his arm Wednesday, as his father fitted a 3-D-printed prosthetic to the boy’s upper arm and elbow.
The light blue plastic piece mimicked the size and length of Hudson’s right arm, though his father and Mandi Sonnenberg, co-founder and director of STEAM Studio, agreed the new device wasn’t yet a perfect fit.
“We’ll give it another try,” Sonnenberg said with a smile.
Hudson was born without a forearm, and a team of students in STEAM Studio’s after-school robotics program at Gould Evans’ offices in Westport have been working to craft a prosthetic limb for the growing boy.
Wednesday’s fitting was the second attempt, after an initial prosthetic proved too big and inflexible. The team went back to the drawing board and rebooted the 50-hour process of building an arm with new, more precise measurements, Sonnenberg said.
Another round of recalculations should help the students refine the arm for an even more comfortable and useful fit, she said.
A 17-year-old STEAM Studio volunteer, Krishon Harris, helped lead the team on Hudson’s project, Sonnenberg said. A Rockhurst High School senior, Krishon was responsible for coding the pieces of the prosthetic and 3-D printing them.
His leadership role has been a point of pride for Sonnenberg, she said, noting he began working with the STEAM Studio as a freshman in 2014.
“When he first started here, he did not know how to code or 3-D print. He really learned a lot while he was here,” said Sonnenberg.
“After that first session that day, I fell in love with the experience and have been volunteering ever since,” Krishon added.
Piecing together the initial prosthetic for Hudson proved to be a challenge, said PJ O’Connor, a criminal defense lawyer at Wagstaff and Cartmell and STEAM volunteer. He was roped into the project when Sonnenberg asked him where to get fishing line to string the pieces into alignment, he said.
“This is the kind of thing they do on a regular basis — it’s why I’m involved,” O’Connor said. “They do a great job of bussing kids in to get these great opportunities.”
Krishon watched intently Wednesday as Hudson and his father tested the second prosthetic, taking note of each challenge and concern they raised.
“Take this one home with you and come back after spring break,” Sonnenberg told them. “We’ll get it right and you’ll love it.”