COMPUTER-AIDED COMPASSION

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February 24, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

CAD students learn about prosthetics and helping those in need as they build a 3D-printed child's hand and adult finger. 

Upper-school students in Notre Dame's CAD classes worked on 3D printing and assembling a prosthetic child's hand and adult finger. More photos below.


Students in Notre Dame Prep's intermediate and advanced CAD CATIA class this week were finishing up a project involving the 3D printing of a prosthetic adult finger and child's hand. According to Katrina Palushaj, NDP's computer science teacher, it was a project perfectly suited to the school's mission and this year's Marist theme.

"The goal for this academic and engineering experience was for students to understand how 3D printing is changing many lives and that one day they can be part of an organization to express the humility and the values we teach here at NDP," she said. 

Palushaj said students in the intermediate CAD class worked on both the prosthetic finger and hand, and the advanced CAD students worked on the finger alone. She said those working on the child's hand worked in teams and those working on fingers worked individually.

"Because of time restrictions, we were not able to design the hands ourselves so we got involved with eNABLE Lowell, a non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, to donate the hand design files," she said. "For this project, the teams decided which hand will be 3D printed and assembled and once they assembled it, they had to test it and make sure it was functional." 

Adam Martin, a senior who worked on the prosthetic projects, said the they allowed him to experience an industry that he likely never would have been able to otherwise.

"The prosthetics industry has been around for centuries, but now it is becoming more complex than I could have ever imagined," he said. "Also, I was able to get some real-world experience with what it actually takes to print out 3D objects and put them together." 

For sophomore Kate Fox, the project included some difficulties with getting the parts to fit correctly, but in the end it was an enjoyable exercise.

"I learned how to assemble a 3D-printed object, which I had never done before," she said. "Overall, I thought it was very fun and I learned about what each small part does and how they all integrate with each other."

Palushaj said the design for the individual finger came from California software engineer Nicholas Brookins, who lost one of his fingers in a motorcycle accident and subsequently developed an open-source prosthetic file to share worldwide. 

"The students were given wide latitude, but the finger was to be designed in a way that was consistent with the rules and goals outlined in the specific goals in class," she said. "But students also were encouraged to be creative and to enjoy the design process."

Senior David Nemmert, who worked on the class project virtually almost entirely from home, said the activity also was a good primer for what he might encounter in college.

"With this finger project, I got a bit of a glimpse of what mechanical engineering is like, which is a major that I am currently considering," he said. "Another advantage of this exercise was that in my opinion, it was a fun project and I genuinely enjoyed working on the prosthetic finger as it was pretty cool to see the final product."

He added that while it was a time-consuming project, he learned a lot about what he wants to major in when he gets to college.

And since he also learned that he likes building things, he said, "it will help out a lot in any university-level mechanical engineering program I join."

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.