Engineering an opportunity

Jan. 26, 2018 | Engineering & Physics |

For a freshman Walton Scholar from Costa Rica, a lifelong challenge has taken new form in an opportunity to serve others and improve the lives of people like him.

Computer engineering major Byron Carranza was born without the lower part of his right arm and spent his life trying to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. His search, shaped by his family and friends, led him to develop a prosthetic arm that he and others around the world could use.

“I was born without my arm. The doctors don’t really know why — I don’t really know why,” Carranza said. “I think this is something that God made for a reason.”

Working with a friend from his scientific high school in Costa Rica, Carranza was able to use 3-D printing and skills learned from robotics and programming classes to create the prosthetic, which attaches to a person’s forearm and relies on muscles to send signals to the sensors in the prosthetic.

“The idea of it is that you can help somebody else, so we didn’t make any money with that,” Carranza said. “The idea was to create a software and prototype that can be printed in a 3-D printer and be used by everybody. It’s much less expensive. A normal prosthetic can be like $2,000 or more, and the prosthetic we created can be made for like $400.”

Carranza said being challenged at his high school pushed him to move out of his comfort zone and out of Costa Rica. Studying in America was always a dream of his, and with the support of his family and shear determination, he made a dream a reality.

“I grew up with my family always helping me and giving me support even though they didn’t have the resources sometimes,” Carranza said. “So my idea to come here was not just to succeed by myself and do something for me but also to help them somehow, and that’s why I’m here.”

As Carranza saw it, Costa Rica is a small country with a poor economy and poor location, and Harding provided greater opportunity for him to pursue his dreams and continue shaping his story.

“I decided to come here because Harding is a Christian university. The environment here is incredible,” Carranza said. “The location is obviously better, and this is an opportunity for me … to go and reach my dreams, find what I really want to do in life, and eliminate the limits that have always been around me.”

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Categories: Students and University.