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Robotics Students Return From Humanitarian Mission Abroad After Delivering Prosthetics to Children in Need

Posted on August 30, 2023, by J Bradshaw.



Yariselle Andujar, a CMSD high school student and program participant with the Great Lakes Science Center’s Robotics Initiative, measures a young Ecuadorian girl for a prosthetic limb – Image credit: Great Lakes Science Center  


Over the past year, several high school students from four Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) robotics teams have been working together to create custom-made, 3D-printed prosthetic hands and arms for child amputees in developing countries around the world. The students, who all participate in the Great Lakes Science Center's Robotics Initiative, call this student-led, global community service project “Hands Across Borders.”

Working closely with, a US-based, volunteer organization that runs humanitarian medical missions to countries in Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, the students are using cloud-based CAD software and 3D printers to fabricate and assemble body-operated, upper-limb, prosthetic devices for children. The doctors and program administrators with were so impressed with the first 3D-printed prosthetic device that was received, that they invited a few students, and their adult mentors, to join them on an upcoming medical mission abroad. So earlier this summer, two of the students from the Argonauts, the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) team at Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, were selected by their peers and trained to become student ambassadors. The pair traveled to Quito, Ecuador with their adult chaperones to join the doctors, and nurses of on a 10-day medical mission to deliver prosthetics to children in need and to help medical volunteers give free treatment to over 7,000 patients with all kinds of conditions.


In addition to working directly with doctors and nurses to provide life-changing aid, the students and an opportunity to meet with government officials and local educators, they helped promote local STEM initiatives, and they also met with local high school students to help them start a similar program there in Quito, so that the humanitarian work that they started would continue long after they returned home to the United States.




18-year-old Gabe Leonard (Left) from FRC Team #8222, fits 6-year-old Anubis with a 3D-printed prosthetic hand. The hand was custom-designed and fabricated by Gabe and his teammates for the little girl – Image credit: Great Lakes Science Center  


“It was so emotional to see the [Ecuadorian] children doing the little things, that we take for granted, that haven’t been able to,” recalls Gabe Leonard, one of the two robotics students who fitted a 6-year-old girl with a prosthetic arm that he and his teammates created. The video of the little girl using her new arm for the first time was captured on tape by a documentary film crew and is part of the official 2023 IMAHelps Mission Overview video below.

















The trip was so successful, that program administrators at the Great Lakes Science Center are in talks with to take a larger group of students on the organization’s next Humanitarian Medical Mission to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic next summer.  


Through this global community service project, participating high school students are not only discovering how STEM can be used to make their community and the world a better place, but they are also learning empathy, respect, and the meaning and importance of “service before self.” It has already sparked an interest in several possible careers, such as Biomedical Engineering, Non-Profit Program Management, and International Relations.



Season Calendar 


FRC Mentor’s Workshop

December 2, 2023

Great Lakes Science Center

601 Erieside Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44114

2024 FRC Kickoff Watch Party

January 6, 2024

Great Lakes Science Center
601 Erieside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

On-site Build & Practice Sessions

After-School, Weekdays and Saturdays

Great Lakes Science Center
601 Erieside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Buckeye Regional

March 21 – March 23, 2024 (Week 4)

Wolstein Center, Cleveland State University

2000 Prospect Avenue E.

Cleveland, OH 44115

Miami Valley Regional

April 3 – April 6, 2024 (Week 6)

Cintas Center, Xavier University

1624 Musketeer Drive.

Cincinnati, OH 45207

2024 FRC Recognition Awards Luncheon 

April 13, 2024

Great Lakes Science Center
601 Erieside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114


FIRST Championship

April 17 – April 20, 2024

George R Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX 77010


2024 GLSC Robotics Initiative Summer Program (Internship) 

June 10 - July 19, 2024

Great Lakes Science Center

601 Erieside Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44114

2024 Humanitarian Medical Mission 

July 25 - August 4, 2024

[Hospital Name & Address TBD]

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

2024 Kettering Kickoff

(Date TBD)

Kettering University

1700 University Ave.,

Flint MI 48504

2024 Curiosity Open Robotics Challenge

September 28, 2024

Great Lakes Science Center
601 Erieside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114


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