CCTC to create prosthetic arm for Clarendon boy

The child of a Clarendon School District 2 instructional coach was surprised with the news that he will receive his first prosthetic hand during a visit to Central Carolina Technical College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center on Friday.

Seventh-grader Connor Morgan, who is home schooled, visited the facility with his mother, Shanna Morgan, and a class of sixth-graders from Manning Elementary School.

“There are no words,” Morgan said. “You can’t thank people for something like this.”

She said Connor was born without his right hand and having a prosthetic hand will positively affect his self-confidence, although he has never let having one hand hold him back.

“We never told him he couldn’t do things,” she said.

Connor said he can pretty much do everything now, but the prosthetic hand will allow him to do much more.

Central Carolina Engineering Graphics Technology Program Manager David Tuders said he willingly accepted the challenge of creating a prosthetic hand because he thought it would be a great learning opportunity for himself, his adjunct instructor and students.

“No one had ever done anything like this before,” he said.

The prototype consists of 17 pieces that were printed using the college’s 3-D printers. The prototype is based on a publicly shared design that Tuders and his students altered along the way.

“We enjoyed the process,” he said.

Connor’s prosthetic hand will be controlled by his wrist; when he bends his wrist, the fingers of the hand will grip, Tuders said.

During his visit Friday, Connor was sized for the prosthetic hand that he plans to take home within a few weeks after it has been redesigned. Tuders said the hand will be printed in Connor’s favorite color, red, and will have black tendons. And, Tuders and his students will design new hands as Connor grows.

Connor’s surprise was a great opportunity to show the students the many different things they can do with science, technology, engineering and math, said Clarendon School District 2 Instructional Coach Marian Marlowe.

She said the school district is implementing the STEM initiative at all five schools through Project Lead the Way, a national nonprofit organization that develops curricula for elementary, middle and high schools across the country.

“We’re starting students as early as kindergarten,” she said.

The kindergarten students work with Cubelets, magnetic robot blocks that exhibit different behaviors when stuck together in different arrangements.

During their visit to Central Carolina’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center, students learned the basics of one of the engineering graphic programs the college students use.

Tuders talked to the students about the different areas of engineering graphics and how engineering graphics technicians design most of the things they use every day.

“We’re preparing them for so many jobs that don’t exist yet,” Marlowe said.

David Tuders, an instructor at Central Carolina Technical College, fits a 3-D printed hand onto Connor Morgan's hand during a visit to the school Friday.
David Tuders, an instructor at Central Carolina Tech., fits a 3D printed hand onto Connor Morgan’s hand during a visit to the center Friday.