Students make 3D printed prosthetic hands for girl living a world away

CHICAGO — Most school projects aim to just make the grade, but a group of students on the South Side are using the cutting-edge tools at their disposal to improve the lives of kids a world away.

While Cambodia has glistening skyscrapers, bustling cities and beautiful Buddhist temples, in too many places poverty is high and educational opportunities are lacking. Life is especially difficult for 11-year-old Srey Noun, who has no hands or feet.

Enter engineering students from Brother Rice High School, who are using a 3-D printer to build plastic prosthetics that could make a huge difference in her life.

They're getting a big assist from Brother Rice alumni Paul Duggan, who graduated from the all-boys Catholic school in 1968. Duggan has done very well for himself in the financial sector, and is chairman emeritus of the nonprofit Love Without Boundaries.

Aiming to give back however possible, Love Without Boundaries has helped thousands of orphaned and vulnerable kids in Asia and Africa with education, nutrition and medicine.

"Our foundation is one child a time," Duggan said.

After the foundation selected Srey as the next child, the students got to work finding out how to help her. Using a 3-D printer, they are making two prosthetic hands, including one that will be functioning and grippable.

One of the leaders on the design team is Liam Coughlin, a current senior at Brother Rice.

"When I curl this wrist, fingers go in; and when I release it the fingers go back out," Coughlin said while demonstrating the device.

Srey is just one child of more than 20 living overseas who are sponsored by students at Brother Rice.

After a ceremonial goodbye at school this week, Duggan and a delegation representing Love Without Boundaries is now on its way to Cambodia, where they'll hand deliver the life-changing gifts.

UPDATE: The students appeared on WGN Morning News with an update on their trip to Cambodia:

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.