SPARTA, NJ – A Sparta High School student stepped up to help another child this year with a unique independent project. Joseph Nocerino created a prosthetic hand for a boy in his church that was born with only one hand.
With the help of two teachers Mark Meola and Lisa Tafuri, programing assistance from a fellow students Brenden Brusberg and about $30 worth of materials, a young boy named Qin got a new hand.
Nocerino spent his spare time creating the hand. He used a program from an organization called Cyberbeast that provides the files to 3D print a prosthetic for free, as long as the device is provided to the recipient for free.
Nocerino put the prosthetic together and has spent the last few weeks “tweaking it to customize the design so energy is not lost” and it functions better for Qin, according to Nocerino.
Qin’s father Preston Davis said the adjustments have been a matter of “determining the limitations of the design versus the function of build,” changing things such as the length of the wires and the types of grips on the fingers.
Initially Qin was “shy about the idea,” said Nocerino. “But when he saw it he totally jumped in and took over immediately, took ownership immediately.”
Qin, a sixth grade student in Andover, came to Sparta High School with his father a couple of weeks ago to talk with TAP into Sparta.
Qin showed how easy the hand functioned, picking up a bottle of water off a counter.
“It’s very cool and it works well,” said the reserved Qin. “It’s comfortable.”
According to Nocerino, Qin chose the color; vibrant orange.
Like many boys his age, Qin plays lacrosse and soccer and is a wrestler. His favorite subjects in school are “math and lunch.”
During his visit Nocerino and Meola gave Qin Sparta Robotics Team tshirt, making him an unofficial member.
“It’s nice Joe could do something for someone he knows,” said Meola. “Nice to have something in the real world, not abstract. And nice to have someone really benefits from his work.”
“Grades are one thing,” said Nocerino, “but this project has made me feel great.”
Nocerino said a “couple of people have approached [him] about internship opportunities.” The high school senior described his “end game” as one that would allow him to “design simple prosthetics to be distributed around the world for those who cannot afford them.”
The connection between Qin and Nocerino was made through church and moms. Nocerino’s mother Diane and Qin’s mother Marivelle sing together in the choir. Qin’s mother was Joseph’s CCD teacher.
Davis said it has been “a joy to have Joe take on this project for Qin.”
“They are a nice family,” said Nocerino. “It has been a pleasure working with this family.”