UNB engineering students designing prosthetic golf arm

Two UNB engineering students are working on a device that could change the way some amputees play golf.

'To think that maybe I'm helping someone regain their ability to play golf ... is really exciting'

Trevor Scott with the adapted club he is working on with Louis Pupek for Bob Radocy. (CBC)

Two engineering students at UNB in Fredericton, N.B., are working on a device that could change the way some amputees play golf.

Fifth year and fourth year students Trevor Scott and Lucas Pupek feel they've made big progress designing a device for golfers who have an arm amputated above the elbow — a project they've been working on for five years.

"To think that maybe I'm helping someone regain their ability to play golf, or even play golf for the first time, is really exciting," said Scott, a mechanical engineering student. 

The project is the brainchild of the founder of high-performance prosthetic company TRS, Bob Radocy. His left hand was amputated after a car crash in 1971.

Bob Radocy of TRS Prosthetics in a promotional shot from his website. (TRS Prosthetics)

"There's just not that many things that we can't do anymore with a prosthesis," said Radocy from his Boulder, Colorado-based office. 

"We have devices ranging in everything from archery all the way through swimming."

Challenge to students

But Radocy is still on a quest for a good device for golfers. 

"I always felt that we could do better. I just haven't had the chance to apply myself and to take the time to develop something that would even be higher-performing than what we have. And that was the challenge to the students at the University of New Brunswick," he said.

The project is being co-funded by UNB and TRS. 

"We really wanted to first, change the geometry to something Bob was looking for, more slender. And second, improve the manufacturing process," said Pupek.

Thanks to 3-D printing, they can make new moulds in a fraction of the time it used to take: just 34 hours. 

They've created seven or eight versions, presenting them each time, said Scott. 

'Real-world consequences'

Next week, they plan to carry out motion-capture tests with a local amputee, on two versions of the latest design.

Trevor Scott and Lucas Pupek with a mould for their adapted golf club made using a 3-D printer. (CBC)

"With this, it's a real-world client and real-world consequences to what we're actually doing, so it gives a lot more meaning to the project," said Pupek. 

Radocy will get to see the device in person this May, and decide if it's ready for tee-off.

The students will be showing off the device at the UNB design symposium at the Fredericton Convention Centre Thursday.

With files from Redmond Shannon


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