The Collective Project: Changing the world with bionic arms for kids

When Albert Manero was a kid, his parents taught him the importance of making the world a better place.

He’s off to a great start. So far, he’s built one bionic limb for a 6-year-old boy, and another for a 7-year-old girl without a left forearm. And he founded the volunteer group Limbitless Solutions to build affordable, bionic, 3D-printed arms, in which he makes the designs available to others for free.

“My parents always encouraged me to use my education to help others and to dream big dreams,” says Manero, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida. “Now I want to inspire others to help engineer hope for the world.”

He and the Limbitless team have focused on arms for children, whose small prosthetics are harder to build and quickly outgrown. The limbs use electrical muscular signals to control movement. The team is now expanding its horizons to develop bionic legs and elbow joints.

Manero and the Limbitless team are featured in The Collective Project, a look at students working together to improve the world. Empowered by Microsoft’s OneNote, the project celebrates the journey of ideas into action, with ways for people to learn more and get involved.

Limbitless’ first arm – for an active boy named Alex – cost less than $350 in materials, much cheaper than the $40,000 price tag of some prosthetics. But the team’s volunteers donated the arm for free, after pooling together their “coffee money.”

“We were all bound to the belief that no one should profit from a child in need of an arm,” says Manero.

Weeks later, his team watched the 6-year-old boy give his mom a two-armed bear hug for the very first time.

Learn more at The Collective Project and Manero’s OneNote on Limbitless Solutions.

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff