Undergraduate Academic Affairs

June 2, 2016

UW undergrad’s project helps restore hand movement

Bryan Nakata

At the University of Washington, undergraduates like Sasha Portnova research issues that can impact the world. Portnova, a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, uses her research to help solve the difficulties individuals with spinal cord injury may face. Growing up in Kazakhstan, Portnova was discouraged from studying engineering, which was viewed as a more typical male subject.

After coming to the U.S. and enrolling in the University of Washington, she discovered her passion for engineering and helping others. This passion led her to begin working on her project – a wrist assistive device for individuals who have lost hand movement. The 3-D printed device assists in hand movement for an estimated cost of $15. In addition to being cost-effective, the designs will be available online via open source for anyone to print their own.

Along the way, she has presented her research to multiple conferences including Posters on the Hill in Washington D.C. After graduating this spring, Portnova’s next steps include obtaining a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. She plans to use her passion for research to help others, specifically veterans.