What's in your Backpack?

“Digital blueprints for my 3-D printer,” said Mason Wilde, a junior majoring in computer science from Louisburg, Kan. As founder of the nonprofit Dextella Company, Wilde uses them to print and assemble low-cost prosthetic hands for people in need. He got his start in high school when he made a hand for a 9-year-old family friend.

The blueprints are derived from open source designs, which Wilde uses to create and configure a perfectly sized prosthetic for each of his clients. “The blueprints represent my lifelong desire to break things down and tackle them head on, whether it’s a 3-D printed object,or a project at school,” he said. Wilde’s scholarships at KU have allowed him to devote more time to his studies, undergraduate research, and his nonprofit.

This past summer, Wilde interned at Google in Los Angeles as part of their Engineering Practicum Program. In the future, he hopes to transform Dextella into something akin to a consulting firm. Many people are capable of creating 3-D printed prosthetics themselves with online plans and 3-D printers in libraries, but need some guidance. This way, Wilde says, he can provide services to more people at a lower cost.

Ultimately, Wilde’s goal is to move the world forward with the latest tools. “Using my abilities to embrace technology and benefit my community is my passion,” he said.