Juniors Rebeca Forsyth (left) and Jaden Smith (right) are developing an improved foot brace for patients of a local rehab facility.
March 14, 2023 | EFCTS
Jaden Smith proves you’re never too young to make a difference in your future industry. A junior at Groveport Madison High School and a Pre-Engineering student at Eastland Career Center, she job shadowed a bioengineer — her desired field — at the Embassy of Woodview, an assisted living and rehabilitation facility, in November of 2022.
Jaden (left) and Rebeca (right) take some key measurements for their prototype.
While there, a physical therapist showed her the braces they use on patients, but one, in particular, stood out to her. It was a foot brace designed to help patients with heel conditions, but the staff member told her they rarely use it because of the brace’s poor design.
A lightbulb turned on in Smith’s head, and she asked if she could take the brace with her and develop a new prototype. She recruited fellow junior Rebeca Forsyth (Pickerington High School North), also a Pre-Engineering student, to help her tackle the project.
They used the engineering design process to assess what was working and what wasn’t. The key problems they identified were that it wasn’t stable enough for a patient’s foot and the brace’s kickstand was unreliable, both of which can be dangerous for older patients with balance issues. The brace also only expanded to a certain size so it didn’t always fit all patients, which created equity and comfort issues.
The new brace prototype includes a 3D-printed part, a spoon-shaped kickstand that allows for some movement when patients are laying down while still holding the foot in place, a plate or shinguard made from prosthetic plastic that helps with stability, and stretchy, soft fabric for comfort and so the brace will fit no matter someone’s size or shape.
Smith and Forsyth learned a lot along the way, including how to sew, how the body works, and how to use their resources wisely such as when they went to the school’s welding instructor for help molding a critical part of the brace.
“My stepmom and dad are in the medical field. They taught me the medical information I needed and offered insight into what needed to be changed based on how the body works,” said Smith.
The project took a lot of trial and error but they are beyond proud of how far the prototype has come. Because of its success, they decided to enter it into their career-technical student organization competition. After recruiting classmate Nazrawit Bekele (Reynoldsburg High School) to help complete the presentation, the trio won their event category and punched its ticket to the SkillsUSA state competition.
Additionally, one of the therapists at Woodview talked about the possibility of finding an investor to develop the product, so not only did they put their engineering design skills to good use, but they are also becoming entrepreneurs.
Smith didn’t know she wanted to go into bioengineering until she worked on this project.
“It means a lot that we are doing something with an actual benefit to people beyond just working for a grade.”
Jaden (left) and Rebeca (right) show the before (right) and after (left) of their foot brace prototype.
Smith and Forsyth have a shared appreciation to have the opportunity to work together on such an impactful project. “I especially love that we are two females working on this together since engineering is usually a more male-dominated field,” said Smith.
Away from school, Forsyth participates in pageants such as Miss Columbus Teen and the Cinderella Pageant. Through these pageants, she can’t wait to share her experience at Eastland-Fairfield to spread a message to younger girls.
“I want to inspire little girls that they can do something like this, that they can do a male-dominated job or anything they want to do.”
Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools is the seventh-largest career and technical education district, geographically, in the State of Ohio. We serve more than 5,000 students in 16 school districts throughout Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway counties. Eastland-Fairfield provides more than 35 programs to over 1,600 high school and adult students. The district has two main campuses — Eastland Career Center in Groveport and Fairfield Career Center in Carroll, with satellite locations at four of our associate high schools: Gahanna Lincoln, Groveport Madison, New Albany, and Pickerington North.
Founded in 1969. Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools’ mission is to engage, enrich, and equip students every day in every experience. We prepare students to pursue their life’s next E: Employment, Enlistment, Entrepreneurship, and/or additional Education. Visit us online at www.eastlandfairfield.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn for regular updates, fun content and information.