Sunday, October 5, 2014

johns hopkins/e-NABLE conference

Kaivahn and I caught a shuttle to Johns Hopkins and got to the conference early. Almost immediately, I ran into Ivan Owen in the courtyard. It was such a pleasure to meet him for the first time in person. After doing multiple Google Hangouts with Ivan and the Raptor hand design team, it was actually quite surreal to meet many of the e-NABLE people in the flesh. We made our way through registration, again meeting many e-NABLE folks that we only knew by name on the Google + Community. We decided to go downstairs to drop off the hands that we had made. It was absolutely nuts to see all the unassembled hands ready to be distributed to the families/children and the OT's. To think that the design for the Raptor hand had just been developed only a few weeks before by the design team and that people from around the world had volunteered to print this many hands was mind boggling. 

Kaivahn's travel and lodging was paid for by e-NABLE since he designed the conference program. He was so excited to see the conference program and to be there. I was so proud of him for the work he had done on this project as well as the work he had done in the DCRL this past summer. We also brought a few assembly guides that he created, to show people at the conference.

We went up to the auditorium a Hopkins in preparation for the morning presentations. All of the conference sponsors were shown on the screen as people entered the auditorium. I was so happy to see UWM and the DCRL as one of the sponsors. Thanks to UWM Interim Chancellor Mark Mone for investing in co-sponsoring the event and for having the vision to want UWM faculty and students to play a role in the conference. I owe him for UWM's generous contribution and for continuing to support the work that we are doing within our global community.

Kaivahn admiring his handiwork...

Dr. Chi from Johns Hopkins started off the conference with a welcome message and presentation on how he became involved with e-NABLE. He outlined the day and then turned things over to Jon Shull.

I was so pleased to see Shea featured at the start of Jon's talk. People responded very favorably to Jon's talk and his description of "how things started".

It was such a pleasure to meet Jorge in person and to see the results of the research he and his team are dong. It was a very informative talk. Amazing work for sure!

Peter, Peregrine, Greg, and Luke were on a panel of father and son teams that have been building and testing hands. Good stuff!

People were able to hang out and talk between lectures. Kaivahn talked with some of the Creighton University folks. I got to meet David Levin and discuss some of the work we are doing with him in the Middle East.

We moved down to the conference room for lunch (inch was provided for everyone by Johns Hopkins). Kaivahn and I sat down with a very nice family that had traveled from Pennsylvania to learn how to build and hand for their son/grandson. Johns Hopkins had created a kids play room/nap room for family members to rest in and so there were a lot of little kids running around the conference room. It was so cool to see this. Scott Summit of Bespoke Innovations and 3DS gave a great talk and Monika Jones of the Brain Recovery Project gave a moving talk that would absolutely bring anyone who has a child of their own to tears.

Kaivahn and I assisted Greg Dennison and Alina Simon with passing out hand kits to the families that had registered to do the hand building workshop. We were scheduled to be volunteers that heaped with building hands, but at the last minute, Ivan asked if I would be able to demonstrate how to build a hand using the webcam on my laptop. I had never built a hand while suspending the parts in mid-air, but I figured I'd have "a go" at it. There were so many families at this workshop and we had many volunteers moving about the conference area to assist with the building. Peter Binkley, Alina Simon, Kaivahn and many others jumped in to help anyone who was having trouble. In between assembly steps I would go out into the crowd and asset the tables near the podium.

Kaivahn is a natural with children.

I got to know the families pictured above as I would assist them in between presenting assembly steps; such lovely people! I met families from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. We ran short on time, so I was trying desperately to finish the hands that we had started while some children were testing their hands for the first time. It was such a pleasure to look around the room and see so many happy little faces. Again, the whole experience was surreal. I don't believe I can even put into words what this event was like. Luckily, Jen Owen took many pictures while all of this was going on. Many of the pictures here (with watermark) are hers. I also was able to reconnect with Jan Baum (fellow Metalsmith and Digital Tech junkie) when she walked up to me at the conference. I had forgotten that she works in Baltimore.

I got to meet Erik de Bruijn from Ultimaker and was able to thank him in person for the Ultimaker machine that I received. He and Sander were running a table at the vendor's area and were more than willing to share print tips as well as talk about ideas for 3D printed hands. Erik gave a great talk, but I unfortunately missed part of it while finishing up hands with my new family of friends at the tables I was working with.

The vendors area was full and it's easy to understand when you see all of the cool people that you could talk to. Joel Gibbard was there talking about the Open hand project and there were several prosthetic device companies there showing the high end devices that they create for users.

The e-NABLE group came together for a group picture at the end of the night. So many great people doing so many great things. It was such a pleasure to meet everyone and to have a chance to speak with people that I have been working with over the last eleven months.

I didn't know quite what to expect from the Johns Hopkins Conference. This was the first meeting from a group of volunteers who have been collaborating via a global village. What would it be like to meet these people in the flesh and to have the opportunity to talk outside of a Google+ Community or a Hangout? How would things run and how many people would attend? How would the presentations be? How would e-NABLE be received by the prosthetic device companies? In the end, none of that mattered. It was the things that I did not anticipate that stuck in my memory: the Johns Hopkins hospitality and their arrangements for the families and children, meeting numerous families from across the country and being able to share with them, seeing children meet other children that "look like them" and seeing the joy on their face as they use a 3D printed hand that was printed by a volunteer that lives miles away. The picture above sums it all up!

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