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Sep 28, 2013 08:24 AM EDT

Rice Engineering Students Build Robotic Arm for Texas Teen Suffering from Brittle Bone Disease

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A team of bioengineering students at George R. Brown School of Engineering, Rice University, Houston, have successfully built a robotic arm for a differently abled teenager.

Dee Faught, 17, is suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. It is a genetic condition that makes bones fragile and break easily. The genetic disorder has restricted Fraught to his wheelchair.

"We've seen a lot of people tell him he's not going to be able to do certain things," Faught's dad, Keith said in an official statement. "Dee's not one to say, 'I can't do it.' He'll figure out a way."

According to Dr. Gloria Gogola from Shriners Hospitals for Children, Dee's 'biggest desire' is to be able to reach things, like a light switch in his house, according to MSN.

In an attempt to give Faught more independence to perform everyday household tasks, the students constructed the 'R-ARM.' The robotic arm was presented to Fraught last Friday at Shriners Hospital for Children in Texas.

The arm fixed to his motorized wheelchair, operates with a remote control. It will allow him to pick up and reach objects on high shelves.

"I thought it would be cool, but then I saw it ... and I was like, it was really, really cool," Faught told MSN.

 "It will help me be more independent," Faught said in an official statement. "Not many kids I know get to get a robotic arm."

"It will help him reach into the cabinets and get a cup or something he can't get to from his chair by himself," his mom, Stacy said in an official statement. "One of the things I'm excited about is that he'll be able to pick up his laundry off the floor."

For their tremendous achievement, Rice juniors Matthew Nojoomi, Nimish Mittal and Sergio Gonzalez received an award.

"I expected a high level of engineering talent," Gogola said in an official statement. "But I was astounded at the amount of sensitivity they had toward Dee. It gives me hope that there are young engineers out there who are so sensitive to people with special needs who are fantastic in their own right."

(Photo : Jeff Fitlow/Rice)
Rice Engineering Team. Sanding from left, are Nimish Mittal, Matthew Nojoomi, adviser Ann Saterbak and Sergio Gonzalez.

Faught plans to attend Houston Community College and dreams of pursuing a music career in New York.

"He's an incredible kid," Mittal said in an official statement. "I think that's part of the reason we stuck with it. If it was just an abstract kind of project, we would have been less motivated. But the fact that we were building it for Dee drove us. We didn't want to disappoint him."

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