7-Year-Old Receives Prosthetic Hand Designed, Assembled by 9th Graders

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A charter school for boys that opened last September is finishing up classes. For one group of students, their first year at Vertus Charter School has been quite rewarding.

The applause isn't because these students are about to get a two week break from a year-round curriculum. It's for Doug Klueber Jr., 7, who received a prosthetic hand designed and assembled by ninth graders at Vertus Charter School.

"That'll change his life for being able to do the things that maybe he had to be challenged with in the beginning, maybe now he won't be as challenged or maybe feel a sense of relief for lack of frustration in trying to do things," said Carrie Klueber, Doug's mother.

Doug was born without fingers on his left hand. These students used state of the art technology to build him a usable hand. The prosthetic is designed on a computer, then sent to a 3D printer that lays it down in layers of plastic.

"To be able to give somebody a hand that can change lives and stuff, words can't even explain. I'm very proud of me and my team," said Lee Cooper, Vertus Charter School student.

The Klueber's are proud to have their son benefit from the students efforts. They believe this project will help change the students lives as much as it does Doug Jr.'s.

"These things will stick with them for their lives, and for us also to realize there's a community of people that care and are willing to give their time and effort," said Doug Klueber, Sr., Doug's father.

Vertus students worked with a number of partners on this project. Financial backing came from the city of Rochester and RIT helped out with the technical expertise. Liz Jackson is a mechanical engineering major at RIT and worked closely with the students at Vertus. The prosthetics are custom made to fit the patient and are adjustable. Plus they can be produced in a variety of colors.

"They're also really cheap to print. They cost like $20 in material compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a professional prosthetic. So we can give these to kids for free and we can give them new ones when they outgrow them in six months or so too," said Liz Jackson, RIT student.

Doug's hand is blue, his favorite color. He now plans on giving golf a try and perhaps even baseball.

"I want to tell the boys thank you for all the help and work," said Doug.

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