Sarah Hood, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student at the U, has found passion in engineering at the intersection of humans and technology. Through her research, she has helped develop a novel robotic-leg prosthesis that will enable users to perform tasks such as walking and climbing stairs on a much more dynamic and personalized level.
One of the difficulties of creating this prosthetic technology is developing prosthetics that work across the variability of human movement. When implemented effectively, this technology will improve mobility and quality of life for those with above-knee amputation. Hood began working in the lab when it was only six months old, with one individual from the community who was willing to test the device. Now, the lab works with over 20 people from the community willing to test the devices to further their development.
Beyond the technological feats she is working on, Hood places a high priority on the human element of her research. “I’m very much not the stereotypical engineer — I’m an extrovert, I like being around people, and so I loved this part of the field because I get to work on a robot, and I can see the change that I’m making,” she said. “I get to work with the end-user to see if the changes I’m making will actually make a difference in the long run.”
Going forward, Hood plans to finish her Ph.D. and continue working in the U’s lab led by professor Tommaso Lenzi to help get the prosthetic device on the market in the next five years. She said, “This is where technology is going, and this is where powered prosthetics are going.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.