High School Robotics Team Creates Prosthetic Hand for Iraq War Veteran

MODESTO -- A team of Modesto high school students are supporting an Iraq War veteran in a big way by giving him a literal helping hand.

In 2005, Jose Jauregui was in Iraq serving as an Army cannon crew member when the tank he was in was hit by a rocket.

“I was burned 75 percent of my body," Jauregui said. "Lost my left hand... most of my left hand and most of the use of my right hand.”

Although disabled he says softball makes him feel like one of the guys.

“Makes me feel a little normal playing out there with guys that don’t have anything wrong with them," Jauregui said.

Now it’s been made a little easier thanks to the teens with Beyer High School’s robotics team.

“It’s almost indescribable being able to see that you’re able to make a change, not only for someone but hopefully to help change the community in the process," said freshman Danielle Haubrich.

The students and Jauregui were introduced to each other through a doctor. Jauregui needed a prosthetic hand to help him play ball.

“When I get the ball it’s kind of hard to catch or hold a glove along with anything. So I’m hoping for a little more stability in my hand," Jauregui said.

The kids saw an opportunity to learn.

“It was a challenge that we kind of wanted to accept," said junior Mark Wright. "We wanted to get onto something to be able to help people.”

But like any good experiment, there was some trial and error. Even though the first model looked great, it does not fit the glove. The fingers are too short and the mechanism works backward.

Hand 2.0 was sleeker, easier to use and fit like a glove.

Jauregui says he’s grateful for the kids' talent and dedication.

“I think it’d be amazing. This is just the beginning, really. It’s advancing so fast," Jauregui said.

The students are just as grateful. They said helping Jauregui has paved the way to help even more people.

“To overcome these limitations by using science, technology, engineering, 3-D printing, to make themselves these prosthetics," Haubrich said.

Efforts received recognition at last weekend’s Idaho Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The teens say the hand is just a prototype and they will continue working with Jauregui to improve how it works.