High school students engineer hope for an underdog
Officials with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) were so intrigued by an engineering project at Stillwater Area High School that they had to see it for themselves. After reading an article in the Washington Post about the incredible work of students in creating assistive devices for a 3-legged dog, USPTO officials decided to visit teacher Matt Howe’s classroom.
The Saving Sadie project piqued the interest of Derrick Brent, Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, as well as Assistant Regional Director James Wilson and Patent Examiner Sheree Brown. They were excited to see the students’ designs in action and expressed how much they admired their creativity, saying it gave them hope for the future of the U.S. economy. The officials even offered to help the students apply for patents that might come out of this project.
For the past several weeks, students have been busy creating assistive devices to help Sadie, an 8-year-old Brittany Spaniel get around easier. Sadie, who lives with high school para Nancy Schoenecker and her family, lost one of her front legs in an accident when she was just a year and a half old. While she can run just as fast on 3 legs as she ever did on 4, she tires quickly. She’s also developing arthritis and could use some assistance getting around.
After researching different types of assistive devices, drawing plans, and eventually designing a prototype using CAD software they used 3D printers, laser cutters and other technologies to build carts or prosthetics to help Sadie get around. Then they put their concepts to the test and learned what worked well and what needed improvement. Next they will make adjustments, refine their projects and test them again. The students are hopeful their creations will keep Sadie active for years to come.
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