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Marissa Shorenstein-President, AT&T Northeast Region

For most kids, summer vacation is about swimming, hanging with friends and family vacations. But this summer was a little different for more than 60 extraordinary students, who participated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs co-hosted and supported by AT&T in New York.

They can now add “making prosthetic hands for kids in need” to their list of summer break activities.

Students in both Buffalo and Troy, New York devoted time over their summer breaks to create prosthetic hands using 3-D printing technology. They used basic anatomy knowledge, engineering design skills, computer coding and advanced fabrication to produce the prosthetics.

The students spent a day with the local recipients to take measurements and discuss features they wanted to include, like functionality, color and design. The students then spent their days perfecting each prosthetic hand with trained instructors through trial and error.

Children, both in these communities and internationally, received their prosthetics at a ceremony where the students discussed the special features they included to personalize each hand.

Working with the WNY STEM Hub in Buffalo and the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy to provide these summer STEM-focused programs, the students used online open source resources provided by e-NABLE, an online global community. e-NABLE uses 3D printers to create free 3D fabricated hands and arms for those in need of assistance. The community collaborates on ways to improve the open source 3D printable designs for hands and arms. Many of the recipients were born with missing fingers or have lost them through war, disease or natural disaster.

The e-NABLE community is a large one. It’s made up of teachers, students, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, tinkerers, designers, parents, children, scout troops, artists, philanthropists, dreamers, coders, makers and people who just want to make a difference. Their goal is to “give the world a helping hand.” The programs illustrate how technology can create life-changing solutions for those who live with disabilities and ailments.

But these programs don’t just demonstrate how we can use technology as a tool for social and civic good. They’re also important to the future of STEM.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, much of the growth in the domestic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs, a highly lucrative and competitive field.

It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the U.S. We are helping give youth today the tools and skills necessary to compete in tomorrow’s innovation economy.

Life-changing. Amazing. Inspiring. Proud.  These were just some of the words students enrolled in these unique STEM programs used to describe their experiences designing and creating prosthetic hands for other children in need.

AT&T is happy to have had the opportunity to provide a helping hand to all those involved in these inspiring programs!

Marissa Shorenstein
Marissa Shorenstein President, AT&T Northeast Region