UW-Madison: College of Engineering Students Design Prosthetic

CONTACT: Tracy Puccinelli – [email protected] 

ENGINEERING STUDENTS DESIGN PROSTHETIC FOR ONE-LEGGED ROOSTER, ASSISTIVE DEVICE FOR MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY PATIENT

Each semester, first-year UW-Madison engineering students in an introductory, interdisciplinary design course take on practical projects for real clients, including community members. This spring is no different, and three groups in course creator and instructor Tracy Jane Puccinelli’s class, in particular, have created interesting and useful devices.

One group has tackled the quirky challenge of design a prosthetic foot for a chicken. Local veterinary technician Kristen Cooley adopted the initially aptly named “Peg” and, at the urging of a friend, contacted Puccinelli. 

The students have created two variations of 3D-printed prosthetics featuring a padded bar, silicone mold insert and Velcro strap to improve Peg’s mobility. Midway through the semester, all involved got a surprise when Peg crowed, revealing himself as a young rooster.

Two other groups in the class are designing and building assistive devices to help Dan Dorszynski, a Madison resident with muscular dystrophy, sit up and get out of bed independently.

“In this course, first-year students learn how to work on a team, gain experience in a variety of communication methods, learn the design process and general problem-solving techniques, and see how all of their physics and math knowledge can be applied toward solving engineering problems,” says Puccinelli. “And, of course, they also have fun and make some new friends.