Charter school students lend a literal hand
Rochester, N.Y. - For the last five weeks, the hum of a 3D printer has been the soundtrack of summer for students at the Vertus Charter School.
It was also the soundtrack for about a dozen freshmen who were making prosthetic hands.
"It's not something many kids can say," freshman Antonio Rucinski said. "I built prosthetic hands, I can work a 3D printer. I've changed someone's life."
The students knew the hands they made might fit a child somewhere in the world. The work they were doing at this year-round charter school was being supervised through AT&T and RIT's e-NABLE program, which connects 3D-printed prostheses with people around the world.
It also allowed the students to be paid through the City of Rochester's Summer of Opportunity program.
The child who they ended up helping is a local child and he paid them a visit this week.
Doug Klueber, Jr. received a standing ovation when he walked into the classroom at Vertus Wednesday.
Doug was born with an underdeveloped hand. He used his fully-functional hand to unwrap his special-order blue and green prosthetic hand.
"We recognize how big this day is," one staff member said. "This is a life changing day."
It was life changing for Doug, who tested his hand with the help of 3rd year RIT student Liz Jackson who helped teach the class.
But it was also life changing for the students who made it for him, including Antonio Rucinski.
"We know that what we've been doing for these past 5 weeks, now that we know that it's actually doing something and it's not just these hands that we are building." Rucinski said. "It's someone else's new hand that we are building."
Doug Jr's mom Carrie said she was so grateful.
"There are no words that can describe how you feel in terms of being able to see your kids now able to do something that maybe they weren't always able to do to the degree," she said.
Doug's parents were sure to let the students know how grateful they were.
"To know what it means to us as a family, you guys should be very proud of yourselves," Doug's father told the students. "You did a great job. You worked hard all summer so thank you again from all of us."
Doug Jr. got a little practice in with his new hand while at the school
"I will work with you until it works absolutely perfect for you," Liz told him.
The family and students posed for pictures and promised to stay in touch.
"I look forward to making you another hand soon as your hand gets bigger," one student told Doug, Jr. "I look forward to seeing you again."
The e-NABLE program is made possible through cooperation between AT&T, RIT, RED Hat and the City of Rochester.