The student applies his ME knowledge to develop prosthetics for amputee athletes
Mechanical Engineering (ME) student Jillian Dunn spent three months over the summer combining three of her passions: engineering, sports and helping others.
Dunn recently interned at Amputee Blade Runners, a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides prosthetics to amputee runners or amputees who just want to be more active. The company provides its equipment to customers free of charge because running prostheses are not always covered by health insurance, according to the company’s website.
As an intern, Dunn worked alongside prosthetists and manufacturing technicians. For her, it was an opportunity to apply the knowledge she had acquired through the ME program to a real situation.
“I was able to apply the knowledge of mechanics and dynamics when fabricating the socket and adjusting the leg alignment,” Dunn said. “Biomechanics must also be taken into account when choosing the thickness and strength of the socket. “
Dunn grew up in Mason City, Iowa and always enjoyed “doing practical projects and solving tough problems.” Iowa State University was the only school she was considering when entering college and she chose ME as a major because of both its versatility and the fact that it fit well with her minor. in biomedical engineering.
As a student at Iowa State, she is a member of the ISU Biomedical Engineering Society and has helped work on some of the club’s projects, such as a 3D printed prosthetic arm and leg. She also organizes campus tours for prospective students as part of her role in the Engineering Ambassador and Mentor (TEAM) program. She said the beauty of the Iowa state campus is part of what attracted her.
While not related to engineering, she is also involved in Iowa State’s Best Buddies chapter – of which she previously served as president – as well as Dance Marathon, both of which allow her to pursue her passion. to help others. Additionally, Dunn coaches basketball, flag football, track and field and volleyball for the Special Olympics.
In 2020, Dunn completed a cooperative with CIVCO Medical Solutions in Kalona, Iowa. She has worked as a quality engineer handling Class II medical devices such as ultrasound probe covers, needle guides and holders. Last summer, she took part in a weeklong volunteer trip for the Range of Motion project. For this, she traveled to Quito, Ecuador, where she worked alongside prosthetists, students and translators to provide prosthetic lower limb care to 15 Ecuadorians. The team was responsible for molding the patients and fabricating the sockets using donated components.
Dunn plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering at the end of the fall 2021 semester. She is currently exploring graduate study opportunities and hopes to pursue a master’s degree program in prosthetics and orthotics.
“This will allow me to become a certified prosthetist and orthotist, a career in which I can combine my engineering knowledge with my passion to help others. I will work directly with patients to find the best person to improve their mobility and quality of life, ”she said.