Student building prosthetic arm

Victoria (Tori) Thimmes may only be a teenager but she has big aspirations for her future. Thimmes is building a prosthetic robot arm as part of her project for the College Now program at North Central State College. College-NOW is a two-year program that allows high school juniors to enter college on a track to earn their associate degree as they complete their last two years of high school. She started the College-NOW program as a junior at Buckeye Central High School.

Thimmes knew this was the right program for her. She says, “I came to NC State College and shadowed some of the students, spending the day with them in their classroom.” She continues, “I knew this is what I wanted to do because it’s an associate degree for FREE and you don’t get much better than that.”

Thimmes chose to create a prosthetic arm because of her connection with a coach at Buckeye Central High School, Greg Moore. In 2015, the vehicle Coach Moore was driving was struck by a garbage truck. He lost his left arm.

The idea for the prosthetic arm came to Thimmes when she spotted Moore at the golf course. “I am a golfer and was practicing when I saw Coach Moore trying to hit a ball off a tee. He didn’t have a lot of leverage because he could only use one arm,” she explains.

That gave her the idea to try to build the prosthetic arm as her College-NOW project. She mentioned the project to Moore and he was excited and the possibilities.

Thimmes got started right away. She made most of the essential parts for the prosthetic in the Fab Lab with the 3-D printer.

Thimmes began constructing the arm and testing the materials. “We stretched the materials and compressed it just to see how strong the material is and to make sure it was sturdy enough.” She continues to work on her project and now recruited a team to help. She continues to check in with Coach Moore. She says, “I go back to Buckeye Central somedays just to give him updates on the project. He gets so excited.”

Thimmes will graduate in May with 67 credit hours and her associate degree in integrated engineer technology. She plans to attend either The Ohio State University or the University of Akron majoring in Biomedical Engineering.

For those in high school thinking about attending College-NOW at North Central State College, she gives this advice, “It can be very challenging at first but you really just have to work at it. You have to want it. You have to be motivated enough to keep pushing through and studying. You have to really work at it. You also have to look a few years into the future and say you know that this is going to help me and I should do it no matter how hard it is going to be.”