A group of North County teenagers is helping to put Fallbrook in the national spotlight thanks to their "handy" new invention.
Fallbrook High School Biomedical Engineering/Advanced Engineering students Lianna Arnold, Kyle Bequette and Nick Holemo recently won SkillsUSA’s statewide competition in Engineering Technology and Design for the "Handinator 3000."
The Handinator 3000 is a robotic, prosthetic hand that uses muscle sensors and laptop batteries to operate it.
"What happens is, when you tighten your muscle, you change the amount of voltage going through your muscles and it’ll read that, and it makes the hand bend to whichever way you want to," said Arnold, who at 16-years-old is the youngest in the group.
"If you’re fully flexed, then it will close all the way. If you’re half-flexed, it’ll just go halfway, and then all the way up if you’re loose," he said while demonstrating the innovation.
The students came up with the Handinator 3000 after Eaton asked the class to take some of the skills they’ve learned from robotics to make someone’s life better.
They hope to eventually make the design and coding for the Handinator 3000 available for free online so that people can download and 3-D print their own prosthetics, "because most prosthetics are pretty expensive. Our total project was maybe $100. So it’s very affordable," said Bequette.
Arnold and her teammates have been working all year on the project, from conception, to design, to building the prototype itself.
"They created their own custom circuit board, they designed, 3-D printed, their own hand, they wrote all of the code themselves and put in a lot of hard work,” said Matt Eaton, a CTE Instructor at Fallbrook High School.
The project is also getting nationwide attention.
The students will be taking the Handinator 3000 to Louisville, Kentucky to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference June 24 to 28.
People wishing to support the tech students in their endeavors can donate to the Fallbrook High School District office, located at 2334 S. Stage Coach Lane, Fallbrook, by indicating that the donation is for Matt Eaton’s engineering and robotics programs.