Do Wonderful: Jacob Krakauer, leveraging 3D printing to help children with disabilities

Medical-grade prosthetic limbs can run upwards of $10,000. A 3D-printed version, on the other hand, only costs $35–40, for the price of supplies. Such a financial differential is significant in its own right. But when it’s a child thatneeds a prosthetic limb, the total cost can be exponentially higher, given their quick developmental time—since many children are only able to wear a prosthetic limb for a few months before they outgrow it.

When Jacob Krakauer joined Intel as an intern, he approached community engagement manager, Theresa Niemeyer, to see where his proficiency in 3D printing might prove useful outside the office. Her response came in the form oftwo simple words: prosthetic limbs.

Jacob knew he could help.

Known as something of a “wizard” when it comes to 3D printing, Jacob was soon connected with TeamUnlimbited, a charity organization that helps “design, develop, build, and distribute open-source 3D-printed assistive devices for people affected with an upper limb difference.” They were working with a woman whose five-year-old nephew needed a prosthetic arm.

The boy – who was in the process of developing new tactile skills like how to ride a bicycle and perform other everyday activities – was struggling, having only one arm. So Jacob acquired the appropriate measurements andprinted a Spiderman-inspired arm for him, who now feels a bit like a superhero himself. It was a deed that gave Jacob profound fulfillment.

“One of the most rewarding things,” Jacob says, “is seeing the enjoyment people get from learning a new skill and utilizing it to express their creative personalities.”

Now a System Engineer at Intel, Jacob designs products for the automotive market – products that revolve arounddriver’s assistance and autonomous driving.

“The work that needs to be done has never been done before,” he says. “Everything we do is a new territory. Andwith it comes new and exciting challenges.”

Those challenges present themselves as endless possibilities for Jacob, who also continues to look for ways toutilize his 3D-printing wizardry for good. So when a nonprofit reached out to Intel for a little help understanding how to use its new 3D printer, Jacob leapt at the opportunity.

That nonprofit was the Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills (ACCEL), an organization that works with individuals who have developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders, and intellectual disabilities. ACCEL purchased the 3D printer to create prosthetics and other rehabilitation items necessary for their students.

While many of the staff are trained medical professionals with amazing rehabilitation ideas, none of them had theknowledge of how to create such tactile items for their students, and were often stuck without the proper resources. Jacob spent a few weeks with the staff, teaching them how to use the printer and giving them tips onhow to print different items.

This skills-based volunteer opportunity gave Jacob the chance to educate others, while creating a sense of self-sufficiency for the organization itself. With Jacob’s help, ACCEL is now able to save time and money, thanks to a newfound mastery of 3D printing.

Jacob’s expertise allows him to create life-changing moments for so many people. He is spreading education, awareness, and excitement for an amazing tool that bears unlimited possibilities.

As Jacob and all Intel volunteers aim to Do Wonderful, let’s all continue to use our expertise to create more accessible and innovative solutions for everyone.

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