Handprints e-NABLE Scotland is a student society at the University of Glasgow that makes personalised 3D printed prosthetics for the local community free of charge. They specialise in 3D printing elbow or wrist-controlled prosthetics, that allow the user to grip and control objects.

Over the next few posts we'll be profiling some of the people involved in this special project:

Hi, could you introduce yourself?

Hi! I’m Hannah Walker, I’m currently completing the final exams for my Biomedical Engineering undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow. I grew up in England but moved up to Scotland for university.

How did you get into your current field?

At school, I really enjoyed sciences and maths. I was interested in medical physics and did some work experience at a medical physics department in a hospital. Whilst I was there, I learnt about biomedical engineering and decided I’d like to aim for a career in this field, and therefore chose a degree in this subject.

In my second year at university, I joined Handprints e-NABLE Scotland, a society that creates and donates 3D printed functional upper limb prosthetics. The society focuses mainly on donating prosthetics to children as often they cannot acquire prosthetics through the NHS while they are still growing. As part of a team, I helped to make a 3D printed hand for a child. This was a really rewarding experience. I found it so amazing that such a relatively simple technology as 3D printing can be used to make a huge impact in someone’s life, meaning they can do things that able bodied people take for granted, such as holding a water bottle or brushing their hair. I’ve been on the committee of Handprints for the past two years, first as Outreach Coordinator and this year as Secretary. Handprints only started three years ago, and it’s been such a privilege to work with some amazing students to increase the reach of the society and help even more people.

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What are your goals?

I really want to work in a career that helps people directly whilst allowing me to be creative. Doing a degree in biomedical engineering was the first step in achieving this goal, and I’m now looking at working in the NHS as a clinical engineer.  

Handprints has given me just a little taster of this during my time at university and I’ve loved getting involved with a more practical side of engineering than we do in the university course.

Hannah and the handprints enable team

Do you mentor anyone?

This year I’ve been a mentor for an engineering student in a lower year as part of another engineering society here at the university. Its been a great experience to be able to advise someone going through the same degree as me – I wish I’d had a mentor when I was in first or second year!

What tips would you give to someone wanting to break into tech/STEM?

It will be tough, require a lot of hard work and there are always new challenges that present themselves. This is one of the main aspects of STEM/tech, particularly in engineering, but also makes it very rewarding in the long run! To avoid being overcome by these you’ve got to take it one step at a time by setting yourself smaller targets with your end goal in mind.

Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?

I’m a massive fan of podcasts and there’s quite a few good engineering/tech ones out there such as: How do you engineer?, Women Tech Charge, Unprofessional engineering, Soft skills engineering and many others. I find these interesting and motivating, particularly when I’m swamped with some not very interesting university work! I also read the UK Institute of Engineering’s Engineering & Technology magazine which often has interesting but readable articles about many different exciting areas of engineering.

What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?

For Handprints, we regularly post updates on our various projects on our Instagram @handprints.enable

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