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Huy Huynh (standing) and Alex Juffras (sitting) demonstrate their robotic arm and hand. A camera scans letter forms to the robotic hand, which expresses the letters in American Sign Language.
WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (December 12, 2019) — MassBay Engineering students Huy Huynh of Vietnam and Alex Juffras of Hopkinton, MA, worked non-stop this semester designing and creating a prosthetic hand to demonstrate at the MassBay Student STEM Expo held on December 11, 2019. The electrical engineering students used a 3-D printer in the Wellesley engineering lab to design the arm and a series of circuits to model the movements of a human arm. The hand of the arm can perform multiple human hand functions, including speaking American Sign Language.
“I have always wanted to build something that would improve people’s lives and I thought the STEM Expo was a great opportunity to get this prosthetic arm developed,” said Huy. He added, “We are really happy at the way our project has come to life. It is exciting to watch the project come together and see it functioning.”
The students spent almost every Monday and Wednesday afternoon in the engineering lab, clocking many hours to create the perfect project. Throughout the process, Huy and Alex learned SolidWorks, on their own time, to build the working prosthetic arm with the 3-D printer. They connected electrodes to their arms to measure how much energy they used to move their arms, then applied their findings to the function of the prosthetic. “We wanted to make sure the hand movements were as true to life as possible. To mimic a human hand with the prosthetic, we needed to measure our own movements to ensure the correct energy was being used for each movement,” said Alex.
“The students did an amazing job and went above and beyond any coursework assigned,” said MassBay Associate Professor and Chair of the Engineering Department, Marina Bograd. “This was a truly interdisciplinary assignment that shows how many skills are necessary to accomplish a real-world project. Through this project, students were not only able to learn the theory covered in their electrical engineering courses, but applied it to solving a real life engineering problem.”
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MassBay Community College is ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for two-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England, and #16 nationally. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded life-long learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves.