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CNY STEM students create prosthetics for those in need

Local teens are getting firsthand experience as they study potential careers in the STEM field, and they’re helping central New Yorkers who need prosthetic limbs at the same time.

The students are part of this summer’s “Erie21 Innovation Academy” at Le Moyne College. As part of AT&T’s Hand in Hand program, they take measurements to create real prosthetics using 3D printing technology.

Ken Sieperman, who became an amputee eight years ago said he hopes the students learn how powerful this new technology can be for people who need it.

"It's never going to be exactly the same, but individual enhancements can be very helpful,” said Sieperman. “I know that because I have a (prosthetic) hand."

Heidi Pauta, 17, said the program has expanded her horizons about what a medical career could mean for her.

"This is a different aspect that I never even thought of, so it's very interesting to see," said Pauta.

Kevin Hanna, Director of External Affairs at AT&T, said more than 75% of students the company hires straight out of college are hired for STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, positions. He hopes the Hand-in-Hand program will teach students how big of a difference they can make in these fields.

"It really ties the technology that they're learning to the human being who will benefit from the technology, and that's a very powerful experience for the students," said Hanna.

Hanna said the students will take their measurements and create finished products to give to the prosthetics recipients in the fall.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.