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Students building new prosthetic technology using $9.5k grant

Students building new prosthetic technology using $9.5k grant

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Logan High School students are putting their engineering skills to the test. They're trying to make a groundbreaking invention for people who use prosthetic limbs. 

Logan High School is one of 15 schools nationwide to receive a  $9,500 grant from a prestigious MIT program for the project. The sophomores, juniors and seniors began their research by working with experts in this field.

"We have visited like Hanger Clinic and other places in this area to get information on prosthetics," said Avery Schams, a senior participating in the 'InvenTeam' program.

The students will need to understand the body's natural motion when wearing a prosthetic limb.

"What we want the student to do is get a visual picture of what the limb looks like," said Steve Johnston, a teacher at Logan.

Then they need to turn that into a functional design- a prosthetic that is practical and has the ability to capture movement and turn it into a power source. 

"Now we're mostly just brainstorming ideas for different ways to harvest the energy," Schams said.

Some prosthetics have a vacuum pump that needs to be charged often. Thomas Kujak likens it to a cellphone, which uses a small amount of energy to constantly look for the network, but a lot of energy when used for texting or other apps. 

"We're trying to not only recoup just that little bit of energy that it's using all the time but also help when in high load situations as well," said Kujak, a senior at Logan High School.

Kujak is planning to major in physics when he heads off to college next year. He said this is giving him hands-on experience that will put him one step ahead of others in the incoming class. 

"It's a really great opportunity for me to get one step ahead of some of the other people I'm going to be with in college," Kujak said.

If they're successful, their invention could have far greater impacts for people with disabilities.

"They have the opportunity then to maybe go on that trip to the boundary waters that they couldn't because they can't bring, they have no place to charge," Johnston said. 

The students will need to have the project completed by May, in order to present their design at MIT in June.

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