Sophia Stepp is a senior at San Diego State University, graduating in May 2020.  She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with Computer Science Minor  Sophia and her teammates are working on the Protective Cap for Upper Extremity Osseointegration Challenge. 

Their goal is to create what in theory looks like an artificial elbow. Currently, there is no protection for those with an implant when a prosthetic is not attached.  The only available item is a 3D printed attachment piece that our challenger is unable to lean on and that provides little to no protection.  Their goal is to create a cap that will attach to the attachment piece and provide protection and comfort to our Challenger so that he may return to sport and leisure activities.

The protective cap they created will have 3 layers: a shock layer made of silicone rubber, a protection layer made of carbon fiber, and a comfort layer made of foam.  Our Challenger asked the device to be attached to the attachment piece given. On the inside, there will be a press-fit casing in which the Challenger can push the attachment piece inside.  There is a spring-and-rod assembly on the inside and when the Challenger wishes to remove the cap, he will push the button at the top activating the spring and rod assembly and pushing the attachment piece out.
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Why did you choose your major?  I chose mechanical engineering because I love applying math to solve problems and to improve people’s quality of life. I have always been interested in robotics, solving tough problems, and being faced with something different every day, so the natural step was engineering.

Describe your experience working with QL+ so far.  Working with QL+ has been great so far, and it has provided us with the opportunity to connect with our challenger, Nick. The biggest challenge so far is the pressure that comes with knowing how much your project can impact someone’s life, but that has also been the most rewarding. Knowing that at the end of this, Nick will have something that will hopefully make it easier for him to do what he loves is the best thing you could ask for in a senior project.

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What is it like working with your Challenger?  Working with Nick has been an amazing experience. I learned a lot from working with him and have been inspired by his resilience. When faced with adversity, Nick made the choice to keep living the life he wants to live and I am honored to have been able to work with him.

What would you say to other students about QL+?  QL+ is an amazing organization, putting other's needs first and serving them. If given the chance to work with them, take it, because it’s a great way to expand your perspective and be able to do something good.

What are your plans after graduation?  After graduation, I hope to get a job in the medical device industry as a product development engineer. Eventually, I want to go to graduate school for bioengineering, hopefully, paid for by the company.

What is the proudest moment of your college career?  Working with this project has been the thing I’m most proud of in my college career. Being able to practice everything I’ve learned over the last 4 years and have it go towards something great has been very rewarding.

What three words best describe you?  Resourceful, Empathetic, Trustworthy
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