Student Organization Creates Unique Prosthesis
Assistive Technology Solutions is a student organization that builds prosthetics and other assistive devices to help people with disabilities perform daily tasks that they weren’t able to before. They were officially granted Registered Student Organization Status from the Student Government Association on Sept. 16. Carlos Gatti, a junior biomedical engineering major, and the organization’s president, waited for this moment for a long time.
It all started in Paraguay, Gatti’s home country. Before moving to the United States, Gatti worked for an organization called PoParaguay where he gained experience in building prosthetics for people with disabilities. “The experience that I got from that kind of job just gave me the ideas [and] the motivation to continue that work here in the U.S,” Gatti said.
Gatti quickly found his passion for helping people growing alongside his new organization. “You can change someone’s life. It’s just a fascinating thing for me, especially if you can do it for free. I just want to keep doing that and keep doing what I love to do,” Gatti said. To get Assistive Technology Solutions off the ground, Gatti had assistance from Nathan Smith, Gratti’s grant advisor, and Samantha Corcoran, an assistant engineering educator that works with Go Baby Go, a WSU program that modifies store-bought ride-on toy cars for children with disabilities.
“They really guided me a lot through the process as well as the people from the nonprofit organization PoParaguay, were amazing on allowing me to collaborate with them, work with the students here in the U.S. as well as students in Paraguay to develop different projects,” Gatti said. Many of the group’s projects have been for people Gatti has met through a paralympic athlete.
“One of my friend’s dad, he doesn’t have an arm, he’s a paralympic athlete,” Gatti said. “[He] introduced me to a lot of people that need assistive devices to perform their daily life activities.” To create the assistive devices, Assistive Technology Solutions uses WSU’s Project Innovation Hub. There, they can create devices in any color or pattern for free. Being able to use the Project Innovation Hub helps the organization to open itself to more students.
“I really want to provide that hands-on experience to students. I want students to get involved with people, hear their stories, learn from them. I had that experience with PoParaguay so I really want to transmit that to the students here at Wichita State,” said Gatti. To find members, Gatti found interested students in his classes. Because the organization only has about 15 members, they are looking for more students to join. “We are accepting any person from any career field. We are more than happy to have motivated people especially.” Gatti is looking for members from many walks of life because of the nature of their work.
“Each project is different because we don’t want to just focus on a certain type of device we are creating, every person needs a different assistive device,” Gatti said. Just like every student organization, Assistive Technology Solutions had to adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology allowed for a project for Gatti’s friend’s grandfather who doesn’t have an arm was able to be completed while staying socially distanced. “Instead of going to their place and taking measurements for their arm directly, we managed to get a cast from his arm and he sent that cast to me via mail. So we used his cast and we scanned it with a 3D scanner to get the measurements and designed our assistive device from that,” Gatti said.
The organization hopes to send future projects by mail as well to stay safe during the pandemic. Many of their meetings are over Zoom, but their first meeting as an RSO is taking place in person on Saturday, Sept. 25. Gatti hopes that the pandemic will not stop people from contacting the group for help. “We are open to any cases from any age of person so our goal is to help people. Don’t be afraid to contact us, we are going to work on it and we are going to do the best that we can,” said Gatti.