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The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

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The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

Cavalier Post

The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

Cavalier Post

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Shreyas Vatts Made an Arm to Go to ISEF

Caroline Rodriguez

College Park High School senior, Shreyas Vatts won first place in biomedical engineering at the state science fair. He won for his project, the NitinArm, an improved trans-radial prosthetic. 

“This research engineers a novel trans-radial prosthetic to utilize Nitinol, a low-cost, lightweight, shape-memory-alloy instead of motors. Nitinol has three phases—twinned martensite (trained), detwinned martensite (deformed), and austenite (transition)—and changes shape with temperature. To recreate 19 DoFs, Nitinol wires are trained in sets of two: one mimics muscle contraction, and the other expansion. By connecting the wires’ ends, one is always in its detwinned phase, and by passing a current through the wire, it warms and transitions to its twinned phase, simultaneously deforming the paired wire, mimicking the expansion and contraction of muscles. These wires are then inlaid in a custom 3D-printed PLA-carbon fiber prosthesis which enables the replication of the abduction and adduction of the fingers and the isolated actuation of the phalanges, feats not accomplished in commercial prosthetics. This design displays a 110% increase in DoFs than current solutions at only $3000, 10% of the industry average. NitinArm’s increased dexterity, lower costs, and lower weight improve millions of amputees’ lives as it betters trans-radial prosthetics, and proves Nitinol applicability to all prosthetics,” said Vatts.

Vatts was inspired to create the NitinArm after seeing a classmate become an amputee and witnessing the struggles she faced due to her prosthetic’s limitations.

When asked about his favorite part of the project, Vatts said, “My favorite part of my project was getting to work with new and fascinating materials such as Nitinol. This material’s unique ability to change shape on its own have led companies like NASA to work with it as well. Knowing I am using materials such esteemed engineers are too is truly remarkable”.

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And when asked about his favorite memory from the science fair, Vatts said, “My favorite memory was seeing my prototype move for the first time before the second competition. I was struggling for a while to come up with a design that was functional and as a result, had a very poorly designed first revision on display at the district science fair. In the weeks between that and the regional science fair, I was able to make some breakthroughs in my design to the point where my goals of improved prosthetics were being realized. That moment of pure excitement and relief is one I will not forget”.

Vatts plans to continue working on his project as he enters college, hoping to eventually get a provisional patent and continue to develop prototypes.

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Emily Hughes
Emily Hughes, Assistant Editor

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