Young Drummer Without Hands Gets Life-Changing 3D-Printed Prosthetics from Great Tennessee Tech Students

By Jun 25, 2024

Young Drummer Without Hands Gets Life-Changing

Young-In the bustling town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a middle school student named Aubrey Sauvie has found a new beat in life. Despite being born without hands, 12-year-old Aubrey now plays her snare drum with confidence and ease, thanks to a remarkable gift from a group of college engineering students. This is the heartwarming story of how a custom pair of 3D-printed hands transformed Aubrey’s musical journey.

Young-Aubrey’s Challenge:
Young-Aubrey Sauvie was born as a triple congenital amputee. This condition left her without arms below her elbows and with a partially amputated left foot. Navigating daily activities posed significant challenges, but Aubrey’s spirit remained undeterred. Her mother, Jennifer Sauvie, shared that despite these obstacles, Aubrey’s determination and zest for life were unshakable.

Young-A Budding Musician:
Young-Aubrey’s love for music was sparked by her older sister, who plays percussion. Inspired, Aubrey decided to join the school band and take up drumming. However, the lack of hands made holding drumsticks a daunting task.


Young-The Turning Point:
Young-Seeing her struggle, Aubrey’s band director reached out to Tennessee Tech’s Tech Engineering for Kids program. This initiative, overseen by mechanical engineering professor Stephen Canfield, pairs engineering students with children who have special needs. The goal is to create custom assistive technology that enhances the child’s quality of life.

Tech Engineering for Kids:
Tech Engineering for Kids is part of Canfield’s junior-level engineering course at Tennessee Technological University. The program is designed to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application by having students work on real-world projects.

The Project:
A team of ten engineering students took on the challenge of designing custom prosthetics for Aubrey. Their mission was to create a pair of 3D-printed hands that would allow Aubrey to play the drums more effectively. This involved understanding Aubrey’s specific needs, brainstorming solutions, and using advanced technology to bring their designs to life.

Creating the Prosthetics:
The process of creating Aubrey’s prosthetics was meticulous and collaborative. The students worked closely with Aubrey and her family to ensure the design was comfortable and functional. They used 3D printing technology to fabricate the hands, which were then rigorously tested and adjusted to meet Aubrey’s requirements.

Aubrey’s Reaction:
When Aubrey received her new prosthetics, the impact was immediate. “With these, they will stay stable and stay intact,” she said, expressing her excitement. The custom hands allowed her to grip the drumsticks firmly, giving her the freedom to play with more power and precision.

Jennifer Sauvie’s Perspective:
Aubrey’s mother, Jennifer, expressed her gratitude and relief. Before receiving the custom prosthetics, Aubrey had been using a Hero myoelectric 3D printed arm, which was not suitable for drumming. “She’s only got one, so that was not really conducive for holding drumsticks,” Jennifer explained. The new prosthetics provided the solution they had been searching for.

The Broader Impact:
The success of this project highlights the importance of collaboration between educational institutions and the community. By leveraging their skills and resources, the Tennessee Tech students were able to make a significant difference in Aubrey’s life. This initiative also serves as an inspiring example of how engineering and technology can be harnessed to address real-world challenges and improve lives.

Aubrey Sauvie’s story is a testament to human ingenuity and compassion. Through the combined efforts of Tennessee Tech’s engineering students and the support of her family and community, Aubrey can now pursue her passion for music without limitations. Her journey underscores the transformative power of innovation and the enduring spirit of those who dare to dream beyond their circumstances.

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