Skip to main content

Dayton Engineer

ETHOS Student Reflects on Time Spent in Chile

By Haley Puleo, marketing and communications intern

Mechanical engineering major, Brad Hripko, combined two signature University of Dayton School of Engineering summer programs to further his undergraduate research: the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program and the ETHOS International Immersion Program.

Initially, Hripko’s research was funded by a STEM Catalyst Grant awarded to his faculty mentor, Robert Lowe, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and several collaborators. The goal was to find strong, flexible materials that can be printed on basic 3D printers for use as finger prosthetics. This capability is especially important in developing countries where high-end prosthetics are either not available or unaffordable.

This past summer, his research continued with support from SURE, where he received a $5000 stipend to continue his work on predictive modeling, 3D printing of soft, flexible materials and mechanical testing of those materials.

To further his work, Hripko traveled to Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, as part of the ETHOS International Immersion Program. He used the three-week trip to work on the research connected to the final project of his senior design class.

While at this partner university, Hripko joined a design and innovation lab group in a class led by Dr. Constanza Miranda, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who specializes in biomedical design. This class paralleled the prosthetic finger project from his class at the University of Dayton.

"I was very fortunate to be able to put my mechanical engineering knowledge to work,” said Hripko. “We used different 3D printers, fixed final designs, interviewed experts in different fields and used predictive simulations.”

He stayed busy throughout his time in Santiago and kept a detailed progress report on his findings each week.

In week one, he refined the design using a computer-aided design software and then used a basic 3D printer to print all the pieces of the prosthetic finger using a polymer material.

"Gonzalo Gho, CEO of Simulmedic, a healthcare technology startup, was a resource that Dr. Miranda introduced me to the first day I was there,” Hripko said. “He was a great person to talk to because he not only offered advice on the design but set us students up with several startups in the Santiago area who worked with prosthetics.”

In week two, he presented the deliverable for the initial prototype. After interviewing physical therapists, he gained feedback on the design and a greater insight on common needs for amputees.

"Ignacio Villagran was the physiotherapy professor we met with at the end of the second week,” Hripko explained. “Often times, engineers design things without thinking about its usability, and I think Ignacio really helped us look at our design from the patient’s point of view.”

During the final week in Chile, he was able to visit 'Take A Hand' at the Universidad De Chile. Here, he developed the finite element analysis on the prototype finger and presented it to a group of students to give them a better understanding of how the prototype functions.

“Jaime Garrido and his partner Edwin are key members of the 'Take A Hand' team at Universidad De Chile,” Hripko said. “They gave us tours of their workspaces and offered advice on how to make a better looking, better working design.”

Hripko is thankful for the time he spent in Santiago and the various people he met who gave him feedback and direction to keep the project moving forward.

Previous Post

University of Dayton Alumni Donate $5 million for Scholarships, Research

University of Dayton alumni Margie and Bill Klesse have donated $5 million to fund scholarships and research opportunities in science and engineering for high-achieving students with financial need.

Read More
Next Post

Engineering Hosts Graduate Open House October 5

The University of Dayton, with over 50 graduate programs, is committed to providing a perfect fit for those looking to advance their careers.

Read More