SCC Students Exemplify Brotherly Love

prosthetic finger
Ryan Callies shows the prosthetic finger made by Manufacturing Engineering Technology students.
Callies brothers
Ryan Callies and Cody Callies stand in front of the 3-D printer used to create Ryan's prosthetic finger.

When Ryan Callies lost part of his finger in an accident a couple of years ago, he eventually learned to adjust. His brother, Cody, never forgot about it and went a step further, helping design and create a new one.

“I wanted to make one by myself, but a guy in class actually came up with the idea to do it as our class project,” said Cody, a graduate of Southeast Community College’s  Manufacturing Engineering Technology program.

It was two years ago when Ryan was helping his father move a generator when his hand became wedged on a part weighing about 800 pounds. When he pulled his hand out, he realized the top part of his ring finger on his right hand had detached.

For two weeks he couldn’t do anything with his hand, and it took him a few months to learn how to do things differently.

“There are a lot of things I can’t do that I used to do,” Ryan said.

“Whenever he would pick up something small, like quarter-inch nuts, they would drop out (of his hand),” Cody said. “That’s part of the reason I wanted to do this.”

Cody and six other students in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program began looking at ways to design a prosthetic finger for Ryan, a student in SCC’s  Precision Machining and Automation Technology program.

“Initially we came up with three different designs,” Cody said. “One of them was flexed, one would sit still and one looked just like a finger. So we incorporated all those details into our final design.”

The students were able to design and produce the prosthetic finger all in one classroom. A three-dimensional printer enabled them to create their own using ABS plastic.

“We can design anything on the computer, but here we have something tangible with the 3D printer,” Cody said.

Ryan would come in to the classroom, try them on, and give the students his input on the prosthetic finger. Some of them didn’t fit right, others couldn’t bend and another was uncomfortable. It was a lot of trial and error. Ryan never thought his brother and his classmates would actually get that far.

“It started off as more of a joke; I didn’t figure he’d actually do it,” Ryan said.

Josh Libengood teaches the Product and Machine Design class. During the last five weeks, students come up with a project plan that includes prototypes, cost analysis and what they learned. In the past students have designed a ball launcher, go-kart and motorcycle, among other things. This is the first time a prosthetic body part has been designed.

“It was a unique project,” Libengood said. “People got together and worked as a team. It was neat to see the teamwork come together.”

Cody said that if he would’ve designed it himself, like he originally had planned, it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did. With more people involved, they were able to bounce different ideas off of each other and come up with something entirely different than the original plan.

“The sky is the limit in what you want to design,” Cody said. “We had different people come up with a design, and it ended up being a great product instead of a good product.”

“It was cool they were together and made this finger for me. I can actually say I have a prosthetic finger,” Ryan said. “I can actually hold something in my hand.”

Cody graduated last summer and works for his family’s business in Wisner. Ryan is a current student at SCC and will graduate in 2017.

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For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher Haggar
Marketing Specialist
402-323-3395
ahaggar@southeast.edu