Student Design of Grip for Disabled Students earns $10K Award
By Maui Now Staff
A King Kekaulike High School graduate won the Daniel K Inouye Innovation Award, which was announced during the Maui Economic Development Board’s Ke Ala Hele Education Fund Dinner held over the weekend at the Grand Wailea Resort.
As part of the award, seventeen-year-old AJ Ramelb of Pukalani took home a $3,000 cash prize for his college education and $7,000 was awarded to his alma mater’s STEMworks™ lab.
The award, now in its second year, was created in commemoration of the late US Senator Daniel Inouye’s legacy and recognized a student project that best succeeded in applying science, technology, engineering and math solutions to improve their community.
Ramelb utilized 3D Computer Aided Design to create a device for special needs students and those with severe disabilities that enables them to grip paintbrushes.
Ramelb worked out of Kekaulike’s STEMworks™ lab, using SolidWorks 2012 and Z-Print to construct the paintbrush tool with the 3D printer. “Teachers were ecstatic, and students loved the grip and are now able to make breakthroughs in expressing themselves through art,” said MEDB Vice President Leslie Wilkins in an organization press release.
In addition to the award, MEDB Education Committee Chairman Ryan Churchill announced that MEDB planned to assist Ramelb with applying for a US patent for the design.
“I’m very excited to get MEDB’s help,” said Ramelb in a press release. “I don’t think I could get the patent on my own. I don’t think I could do any of this without the help of my teacher, Emily Haines, and the STEMworks™ lab.”
“I couldn’t believe I made something that worked and it could change their lives. It was a ‘wow’ moment,” said Ramelb.
Ramelb is now enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College where he has yet to declare a major, but said he does see a future in technology and computers.
“I’d encourage all students to take STEM. It’s the most open ended class you can take and it really changes your thoughts and opens up your mind to possibilities,” he said.
This is the second year that King Kekaulike High School students were honored with the Daniel K. Inouye Award. In 2013, students Lotus Chen and Sierra Harrel earned the inaugural award for their project that utilized GPS technology.
The project led to the development of a geospatial map, and to government funding for sidewalk and roadway improvements near their school.
According to MEDB, there are approximately 60 students enrolled in STEM courtes this year at Kekaulike, and 35 individuals are members of the school’s STEM Club.
The event drew 660 people, including educators, students, government, business and community leaders keen on supporting STEM education.
The Maui Economic Development Board is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1982 with a focus on diversifying Hawaiʻi’s economy.