Engineering Student Wins Innovation Challenge for 3D Printed Sewing Machine Pedal for the Disabled

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UntitledMost of us know someone who has been affected by, or has been the victim of a violent crime. While it’s easy afterward to offer sympathy, take over a few home-cooked meals, and even shed a few tears as well, to actually live with the consequences—while mourning the loss of a loved one or dealing with injuries oneself—is something most of us simply cannot comprehend. One gunshot can change someone’s entire life, and from there on, how you adjust is what determines the rest of your life.

In the case of Kelvin Henry, everything changed ‘after the chair,’ as one could try to imagine. Always a bit of a clothes horse, that just wasn’t an option anymore after the night he was tragically shot while he and his cousin were running away from an altercation as they attempted to get back a stolen bike.

“I was sad — it was hard for everyone, hard for my family and friends,” Henry said. “It was a life-changing experience for me.”

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Kelvin Henry, on campus.

He experienced a vast and of course very disappointing difference wearing clothes while in a wheelchair. There simply just weren’t any choices. So he picked back up the sense of sewing that he’d learned as a kid from his mother and grandmother, but he wanted to go far beyond that—and beyond clothing as well.

Not just helping himself, Henry is now opening up options for others too. He’s a person who doesn’t like the word no, and that’s served him well—ultimately rewarding him with a nice cash prize for a 3D printed sewing machine invention that lets him use the pedal, but in a new way that many can enjoy.

The 31-year-old engineering student at Queensborough Community College in New York was striving to begin making his own ‘adaptive clothing,’ but wasn’t able to use the traditional foot pedal found on most sewing machines. He came up with a concept for a part that could move the controls from his feet to his arms. It was years before he was able to see that concept become a reality, however. Finally, this year, Henry saw his design come to fruition in the college’s 3D printing lab, thanks to encouragement and help from his professors.

“If they can dream it, we want to be able to help them produce it,” his professor, Michael Lawrence, said.

He won first prize in the The CUNY & Capital One Community College Innovation Challenge Finals, and took home $7,500 after winning in and participating in their nine-month business program. The new designer plans to use the money to further his brand and clothing company, Kmatikz. He’s also, very importantly though, producing stylish zippers and magnets that integrate much more easily into the lives of those with limited mobility, allowing them to get dressed more easily. Everyone benefits from the innovation, and Henry also has the deep satisfaction of helping others whose lives have been limited just like his was previously.

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He credits his college, from which he hopes to graduate next year, and the professors, for offering him the resources and encouragement to find inspiration and resulting success. Even the little things, like professors moving drawers from tables so that he could get to the 3D printers more easily, made a huge difference.

“I have all these people who want to see me succeed,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without the encouragement on campus.”

Through CUNY and Capital One, Kelvin is now able to work with mentors as he pursues his project and his clothing line further. They will offer advice as well as helping him figure out the best ways to spend his money and do business networking too. Have you ever wished you had something different from the traditional sewing machine pedal? Discuss further in the 3D Printed Sewing Machine Pedal forum over at 3DPB.com.

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Henry with a pair of specialty jeans.

[Source / Images: DNA Info]

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