Meet the scholars: Matthew Sierra, Rishi Basdeo, Julia Barry and Zachary Whitacre

California Technology Company Visits Limbitless Solutions to Discuss the Future of Assistive Technology

By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala on

Senior leadership from the California-based software company Autodesk Inc. will visit Limbitless Solutions on the UCF campus today to participate in an Impact Forum focused on the future of assistive technology.

Autodesk’s chief technology officer Scott Borduin and Scott Reese, senior vice president of manufacturing cloud and production products, will discuss assistive technology and the role design plays in innovative solutions. The conversation will include members of Limbitless, the dean of UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and several students who work at Limbitless. It is one of several forums Limbitless is working on to raise awareness about how technology can solve real-world problems.

Autodesk produces software for people who make things. Limbitless uses many of Autodesk’s software programs to create the designs of the prosthetic arms Limbitless makes for children. Limbitless is a nonprofit organization and direct support organization for UCF. Founded in 2014 by UCF students, the team is dedicated to empowering children in the limb-difference community. Limbitless creates personalized, creative and expressive 3D-printed bionic arms and believes no family should be financially burdened because their child has a limb difference. The organization has received international attention and their arms are currently part of a national clinical trial.

Monday’s forum kicks off a new collaboration with Autodesk, which includes the sponsorship of four UCF students who intern at Limbitless. The Autodesk scholars selected for the fall semester have the opportunity to work in design, manufacturing, and assembly of the bionic arms. The students will be part of Monday’s roundtable discussion.

Helping students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is part of Limbitless’ mission. The organization hires several students each semester to support design and production and creates opportunities to learn more about engineering solutions for problems that have no easy solutions.

“My first experience in 3D design started through a high school engineering program using Autodesk software,” said Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD the president and co-founder of Limbitless Solutions. “Limbitless takes pride in our undergraduate development programs and is ecstatic to work with Autodesk to better equip our students to design a more inclusive world with the most cutting-edge design tools and techniques.”

About 25 UCF undergraduate students from a variety of majors work or volunteer at Limbitless. Through cross-collaboration and meaningful project-based learning, Limbitless hopes to provide its students with an opportunity to expand their professional development and skill sets, while having a tangible impact on their communities.

Thanks to the new collaboration, the Autodesk scholars will have the opportunity to dive deeper into the emerging world of generative design, where designers use computational algorithms to drive the 3D model design, Manero said. Designers or engineers input design goals into Autodesk Fusion 360, along with parameters such as performance or spatial requirements, materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. The software explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives. The software tests and learns from each iteration what works and what doesn’t.

The Fall 2019 semester Autodesk scholars are:

Julia Barry
Major: mechanical engineering
Hometown: Davie, Florida
Role at Limbitless: Responsible for assisting in the assembly of the arms and redesigning parts and accessories to meet unique individual needs.
Career Goal: Be involved with a company that takes inspiration from nature and uses those ideas to help innovate interesting, efficient and hardy tech to help people with their everyday lives.

Rishi Basdeo
Major: biomedical sciences and mechanical engineering
Hometown: Clermont, Florida
Role at Limbitless: Focused on the design, manufacturing, and assembly of the arms to support the clinical trial.
Career goal: develop assistive devices, bridging the gap between engineering and medicine to help everyday people.

Matthew Sierra
Major: mechanical engineering
Hometown: Davie, Florida
Role at Limbitless: Mentor new interns in developing design skills including efficient CAD design in Fusion 360. Sierra also supports the Xavier Project for wheelchairs and mobility.
Career goal: Help engineers create a prosthetic hand with fine motor skills that allow the wearer to write with a pencil or play the piano. Hopes to work with manufacturers to lower the cost of upper-limb prosthetics.

Zachary Whitacre
First generation student
Major: mechanical engineering
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia
Role at Limbitless: Designs and tests mechanical parts for the bionic arms, and supports electronics integration.
Career goal: Work in the field of prosthetics and other assistive medical technologies.

For Basdeo, joining Limbitless has been like coming home.

“Hearing some Limbitless representatives speak at the state science fair when I was in middle school was one of the first times that a potential career opportunity really stuck with me,” Basdeo said. “Seeing the impact, they had on someone else’s life was really inspiring, and it was from that moment on that I knew that I wanted to become a prosthetics engineer. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized I was about to attend the home of the organization that first inspired me to become a prosthetics engineer.”

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