Drexel graduate students create device to help young musician

A local boy is able to play the violin better than ever and it's all thanks to a couple of graduate students.

FOX 29 Photojournalist Bill Rohrer explains.

Each year the 4th grade students at Birches Elementary School in Turnersville New Jersey, get to pick out a string instrument and learn to play.

11-year-old Julian Carabalo choose the violin and for good reason.

"It is tiny. I didn't want to pick the cello because the cello is really big," he said.

Julian practices whenever he gets the chance--mixing in playing video games and riding his four wheeler. Nothing holds Julian back. But you see, Julian's right hand never fully developed and playing the violin for long periods is almost impossible.

That's when his music teacher Lisa Sebastiani started looking online for a device to help Julian.

"At first, I thought we were going to make it ourselves and just have a Velcro strap and it would hook onto the bow," she said. "But it didn't really hold anything in place sometime it would come off or slip. That didn't work we then realized we need some professional help."

Time also was an issue. They wanted a device to help Julian be able play in the school's spring concert.

That is where three Drexel graduate students in the School of Medicine come in. Kimanthi Gicovi, Tyler Bogaczyk and Alex Hahan posted a video to YouTube. The purpose to get approval from the e-NABLE Community. A group of people from all over the world who use their 3D printers to create hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. They do all of this for free.

The group got together during a school project where they all had to volunteer their time. With each of them having an interest in 3D printing joining e-NABLE was a no brainier. That's when Lisa, Julian's teacher, contacted them.

"I think all three of us thought that we would be building more hands if anything that is what the EC is known for," Bogaczyk said. "This was a truly custom device from the get go and it forced us to pull all of our resources."

So they got to work--sometimes late into the evening --creating design after design. This on top of their 20 credit hours of school work.

"Trial and error through the design program. We went through a couple of versions through the bow holder it wasn't a done deal. There are definitely some failed prints," Bogaczyk said.

Their final design worked perfectly. Julian is able to play and the bow device was finished just in time for the spring concert, which Drexel graduate students all attended.