LeTourneau University engineering students aid disabled Kenyans

Senior engineering students from LeTourneau University are leaving for Kijabe, Kenya, to fit disabled Kenyan children with free prosthetics. They also will provide raw materials and training of Kenyan medical personnel to manufacture and fit 50 more artificial limbs at a clinic with mobile clinics that serve refugee camps.

The effort, called the LeTourneau Engineering Global Solutions (LEGS) project, is part of a new, ongoing senior engineering design curriculum at the interdenominational Christian university. The students have spent the year designing the prosthetics to be durable, maintenance-free and producible at a low cost in Third World countries.

"Many disabled refugees and land mine victims across the globe live in extreme poverty and walk as far as 15 miles per day," said Dr. Roger Gonzalez, biomedical engineering professor. "The inability for them to purchase modern prosthetics causes them daily hardship. The LEGS project gives students more than just a great education and a grade -- they touch lives. It's education with a higher purpose."

Last Christmas, two students traveled to Kenya with Gonzalez on a feasibility study on two human subjects. While there, they fitted two adult men with prosthetic legs, gaining valuable insights into the human value of their work.

Joseph Korir, a 45-year-old disabled Kenyan farmer, traveled 300 kilometers by bus over two days to meet them. He later wrote, "Through your love, concern and efforts Christ has made me able to walk again ... Your LEGS project has brought and become a physical Christ-touch."

Using infrared cameras and a force plate mounted in the floor of the university's biomedical engineering laboratory in Longview, Texas, the students completed extensive motion analysis and stress testing on their prosthetic leg design. Mechanized tests included over a million repetitions on the foot to simulate three years of walking.

LEGS team members are working with CURE International's Bethany Crippled Children's Center of Kenya, which provides medical and spiritual healing for disabled children and their families. They will return from Kenya June 16.

LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christian university with academic majors in engineering, aeronautical science, business, education, the liberal arts and sciences. LeTourneau also offers degree programs in Austin, Bedford, Dallas, Houston and Tyler, Texas.

For more information about the LEGS project, go to the Web site at http://www.letu.edu/legs.

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