I hope that as you read this you find yourself enjoying a great start to the semester! The beginning of the year is always very hectic and dynamic – there have been many exciting, albeit challenging adjustments to the start of my sophomore year (including needing to remember to buy groceries amidst all the craziness of school life). This semester will definitely test my academic drive as well – I will be continuing to study honors physics this semester with the awesome, one-and-only Professor Bickers, and hope to gain a lot of good technical skills through classes in MATLAB programming and material science. I’m also taking a very interesting class on Chicano and Latino literature, as well as a guitar class (because I am determined to learn this instrument, and hope to maybe audition for the guitar minor in December!).
It has also been really wonderful to reconnect with all my fellow Trojans, like the lovely SWE (Society of Women Engineers) ladies, awesome fellow BME majors in ASBME (the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering), crazy and loud friends in Troy Camp, and lovers of music in Overflow, my acapella group.
My most exciting and most time consuming project, however, has been through 3D4E, the completely student-run 3D Printing Club here at USC. This year I am serving as the University Relations Chair as well as Internal Director of the very exciting Freehand Project. Since this project was only piloted last Spring, I have been working extensively with the executive board (including Ian and Jordan!) to build all the infrastructure for this pseudo nonprofit, which is hugely exciting and has taught me so much!
The USC Freehand Project is an amazing combination of technological advancement, student innovation, and community service created to provide disabled children with a 3D printed prosthetic hand. The project consists of two branches – the international and domestic projects. Using technology from E-nabling the Future, a nonprofit that makes 3D prosthetic models free to the public, we print hands for children in Panama, Syria, and Haiti, which are then sent abroad. We also then partner with local children’s hospitals in Southern California to custom build prosthetics for young children. There is nothing more remarkable and humbling than taking a step back from the wild hectic craziness of school life to work with such precious children. Building a custom hand is a long and detailed process. We work directly with the family to take measurements and choose the colors, we invite the child to come visit our innovation lab to learn about 3D printing, then we custom build the hand to best fit their condition. Seeing the joy in these families has been well worth the many hours spent burning the midnight oil to organize this project. This semester we are seeking to expand, and are currently in the process of seeking new partners in Southern California. I will also be starting construction very soon on a new hand for Chun Chun, the five year-old child I worked with last spring who has more joy on his little face than most people find in a lifetime.
I also had the enormous blessing of going home to visit my hometown of Bishop, CA over labor day weekend to visit family and attend the annual County Fair. It was especially incredible to spend time with my Grammy, my great grandmother, who is one of the most remarkable, witty, brilliant, and loving people I know and has witnessed incredible history take place. It was amazing to be in a room with four generations of family and listen to her stories!
There really hasn’t been a dull moment since stepping foot on campus in August. The Trojan community is buzzing with life and there are opportunities around every corner to network with people and learn something new. From classes to club meetings to singing to starting up with my intramural soccer team, my days have been full and wonderful – this life is truly beautiful! I am so excited to get to meet so many more amazing people this year and continue deepening connections with this Trojan Family. The start of my sophomore year is marked by thankfulness for the amazing blessing it is to be a proud Viterbi Trojan!Meet Madelina