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Jeffrey Powell has gone above and beyond to assist a local six year old boy, Holden Mora, who was born without fully-formed fingers on his left hand. As an undergraduate in the Biomedical Engineering program at UNC, Jeff has access to a 3D printer, which he has used to print a prosthetic hand for Holden. Mr. Powell researched multiple hand designs until he found a simple one that would work well for Holden. While the hand does not allow for complex tasks like playing the piano, it translates wrist motion into closing fingers, which allows Holden to do things like hold toys or water bottles. Jeff donated his time to print the hand components, assemble them, and calibrate and maintain the 3D printer to assure high print quality.

Prosthetics can be incredibly expensive, and Jeff notes that kids will often grow out of them in a year or less. As such, many children go without prosthetics. The solution that Mr. Powell found for Holden costs less than $20 in materials and can be printed on a 3D printer that BME undergraduates have access to. Jeff hopes to train other BME Undergraduates to print and assemble prosthetic hands, so that Holden will always have a local student who can help him when either his hand breaks or he inevitably outgrows it. Jeff also hopes to expand the project beyond Holden by pairing BME undergraduates with other children in need of prosthetics. This system of pairing undergraduates with kids in need would be to the benefit of all—children would have access to prosthetics at a greatly reduced cost, and BME Undergraduates would gain skills with 3D printing, earn community service hours, and would be able to participate in a meaningful cause.

Jeff is a senior Biomedical Engineering student at UNC from Red Oak, NC. He took the initiative to help Holden in his his free time beginning in the summer of 2014.

To see a video of the hand in action, take a look at Kristin Ruffin’s report on YouTube.

To hear a great interview on WUNC radio with Jeff and Holden listen to Phoebe Judge’s broadcast..

If you know of a child who is in need of a prosthetic hand, or if you are a BME undergraduate interested in learning about 3D printing and helping a child in need, please do not hesitate to contact Jeff at

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