DCCC Students Participate in Community Outreach Initiative to Create Part for Prosthetic Leg

Prosthetic knee joint 1

May 8, 2014 – Students at Davidson County Community College recently played a pivotal role in assisting extreme sport athletes by helping to create a vital part of a prosthetic leg – the knee joint.

It may only be a small, shiny piece of aluminum, but the piece is doing big things for these athletes – athletes who have had the traumatic experience of losing a leg and still compete in things like the X Games.

The project, which was held in conjunction with Manufacturing Awareness Week, was part of a community outreach initiative by Barefoot CNC, a MasterCam dealer out of Morganton, N.C. The company provides CadCam software to the industry and also supports community colleges, such as DCCC, with projects and free training to faculty.

DCCC, along with seven other community colleges in North Carolina took part in the project with Barefoot, providing different parts of a prosthetic leg – some made knee joints, some made ankles, sides of legs and more.

“Barefoot wanted to get community colleges in the state involved in their outreach initiatives, so they came to us with this project that would help reduce the costs of making a prosthetic leg,” explains Mike Davis, lead instructor of Manufacturing Technology at DCCC. “They donated the tools and materials.”

Another company, Raptor Workholding Products, a fixture manufacturer in California, provided a specialized part for the CNC machine that made the creation of the knee joint piece possible in DCCC’s manufacturing lab. Together, Barefoot CNC, Raptor and DCCC students teamed to create the knee joint – all for free of charge to Biodapt Inc., the company responsible for the design of the prosthetic leg utilized by extreme athletes.

Davis says three different classes of students were able to observe how the machines were outfitted and programmed for the new fixture; six students actually helped to set up the machinery and get the tools ready.

“Jason Hill from Barefoot CNC, walked us through the program,” Davis says. “The whole project was a phenomenal learning experience. When these students go out into industry, it helps to familiarize them with the process.”

Prosthetic knee joint 2

Mike Troutman, a student at DCCC, says he enjoyed the opportunity to work with Barefoot on the special project. “This is a real world application – especially in the global environment,”Troutman says. “In today’s market, components are manufactured from different vendors all over the world. The skills learned on this project are very highly sought after by industries.”

Davis notes that DCCC completed a dozen of the knee joints – a part that he says would easily cost $300 or more apiece. He adds that he’s pleased with what his classes were able to learn. “Many things in life are manufactured,” he says. “Students might not associate advanced manufacturing with prosthetic legs – but it’s a job that makes a big impact on a lot of lives.”

*Editor’s Note: Pictured in the first photo is an aluminum knee joint manufactured by students at DCCC. In the second photo, DCCC student Mike Troutman is holding the knee joint while standing in front of the Haas 5 Axis vertical milling machine used to manufacture the part.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and is looking forward to serving students in Davidson and Davie counties for many years to come. The college is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College at davidsonccc.edu.