Students at Southern New Hampshire University had an opportunity to give one girl a truly special Christmas present this year.
Maggie Sloboda, a four-year-old girl who lives in Massachusetts, loves to ride her bicycle. It’s purple and pink (her favorite colors) and is equipped with training wheels. Her whole family rides together all the time. But it’s time for Maggie to lose the training wheels. There’s just one problem: Maggie was born without the lower half of her right arm. She uses the end, just below her elbow, to navigate the bike, and it means she has to lean to the right.
Maggie’s grandmother, Marilyn Nieuweboer, works at Southern New Hampshire University in their Records and Registration department. She brought this unique problem to the school’s engineering students as a challenge.
“We were not looking for a way to fix her, but we were looking for a way to fix her bike that didn’t meet her needs,” Nieuweboer said.
“This project has been super meaningful for me,” said Pascal Liddane, one of the mechanical engineering students who tackled this challenge. “It’s definitely interesting and great to work with people in this new community who need help and we can use our engineering knowledge to help them out.” He also called Maggie “absolutely adorable to work with.”
On December 17, Liddane and the other students involved presented Maggie with two 3D-printed prosthetic arms to test out, each giving her a different way to better control her bike.
“This is really giving her a lifetime of independence, which I love,” said Nancy Sloboda, Maggie’s mother. “She loves to just do all these things on the go. She’s just go go go go go … This is going to give her the ability on this bike and other bikes and then bikes in the future.”