I had the chance to sit down with Jeff to learn more about him and The Helping Hands Project. I asked him quite a few questions so we could learn more about what makes him tick. Keep an eye out for more info about Jeff Powell and The Helping Hands Project (@the_hhp) on Twitter! #ThinkRevolution
Name: Jeff Powell
Title(s): Founder, President, Builder The Helping Hands Project, LLC and R&D Associate at TransEnterix, Inc.
How did you get into CAD? How did that lead to creating prostheses?
“I started diving into CAD in some of my biomedical engineering classes at UNC [University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill]. There was not a direct line from my design courses to prosthetic devices though. I was connected to Dr. Richard Goldberg who has worked in rehabilitation engineering for several years. Dr. Goldberg had seen increased interest around 3D printing of prosthetic devices; he connected me to a boy named Holden who has Symbrachydactyly [born without fingers]. After meeting with Holden, I looked into open source designs for hand prosthetic devices so we could help Holden in an affordable way. That’s where it all began.”
How long have you been working in the CAD realm?
“For the last 4-5 years I’ve been working on CAD projects, but helping Holden was the first time I used and modified an open source design. I began using CAD to make completely new hand designs for kids who didn’t fit the original mold. We were able to fine tune each hand for every child moving forward.”
Why did you start to use Lenovo Workstations?
“The first time I used Lenovo Workstations was in the UNC BME lab. Those systems were really fast, but the system running our 3D printer was a standard laptop, this machine caused several defects in the 3D printing process. Once I was able to get connected directly to the Lenovo team they were able to help me get a workstation; after that we had no more issues.”
What software do you use on your systems?
“I use SOLIDWORKS for our prosthetic device modeling.”
What's next for you?
“Well I recently graduated from UNC and I am working at TransEnterix [medical robotics company]. I’m looking to advance my technical skills in the hopes that I will grow into a project or product manager; maybe even CEO of a start-up someday. Of course, I will continue to be active in The Helping Hands Project. Our goal is to give children the best prosthetic devise possible at no cost. We also want to further support open source designs so that other designers can use open source models to create other innovations.”