'Bionic Arm' Captivates Nation; Blueprints Now Online

‘Bionic Arm’ Captivates Nation; Blueprints Now Online

Alex Pring rides his bike with the family's chihuahuas in tow. Photo: Katie Manero/Kt Crabb Photography

Six-year-old Alex Pring beamed while riding his bike Saturday. Thanks to his new “bionic arm” designed by a team of UCF students and alumni, he could grip both handlebars and keep his balance.

Minutes earlier, Alex and his mom, Alyson, sat at the kitchen table at their home near Clermont talking with ABC World News via Skype. Alex proudly showed off how he uses his new prosthetic arm, gripping a UCF Knights football and sword and a Transformer toy.

Alex didn’t take long to get accustomed to his new right arm, and a national audience just as quickly embraced the 6-year-old and the generosity of the UCF students. The team has now posted online the designs for the arm, which they made for just $350. Anyone with access to a 3-D printer and an assortment of off-the-shelf accessories can take the designs and use them to help other children.

“These students are changing lives, and I can’t wait to see what they do next,” read one comment on The Today Show’s Facebook page.

“These young engineers who crafted this GIFT for the family are true heroes!” another comment read.

NBC Nightly News’ “Making a Difference” segment and ABC World News’ “America Strong” segment both featured Alex and the UCF team on Saturday night. The Today Show aired the story on Saturday morning. Other media featuring Alex’s story include People magazine, the Orlando Sentinel and television stations across the country.

The UCF team is led by Ph.D. student Albert Manero, a Fulbright Scholar who leaves for Germany this week to work for the German Aerospace Center. Manero holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCF in aerospace engineering

Joining Manero were 14 other men and women, almost all UCF students and alumni, who provided the expertise and determination necessary to build the arm out of off-the-shelf servos and batteries that are activated by the electromyography muscle energy on Alex’s bicep.

The team’s youngest member — Tyler Petresky, who just completed his freshman year at UCF — developed the electrical wiring for the arm.

“My mother taught us that we’re supposed to help change the world,” said Manero, who is from the Tampa area. “We’re committed to helping who we can, and I’ll be working with my team even when in Germany.”

The UCF team also has established the Limbitless Endowed Scholarship at UCF to support future students with disabilities like Alex’s.

To read more about Alex’s arm and to see a full list of the UCF team members, read this UCF Today story published on Friday.