Engineering student’s project RISEs in global competition

Lianna Genovese with Guided Hands, a device that helps people with limited hand function write, paint, draw and use a tablet. Photo from the Faculty of Engineering.

For people who suffer from dystonia, ALS, Huntington’s disease, arthritis, stroke or spinal cord injuries, it can be laborious to write, draw or use a tablet or computer

With Lianna Genovese’s product Guided Hands, those activities become much easier.

A third-year biomedical and mechanical engineering student, Genovese developed the 3D-printed ergonomic handpiece in her first year at McMaster. She now runs ImaginAble Solutions, a startup company focused on accessibility solutions that is working to bring Guided Hands to market.

“After seeing the smile on a 12-year-old girl’s face, who lives with dystonia, as she painted with Guided Hands, I knew I had to help more children like her,” said Genovese in a recent interview with the Faculty of Engineering.

Now, Guided Hands is also getting international attention. McMaster has nominated Genovese’s project to be part of the Universitas 21’s 2019-2020 RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) showcase, a global collection of student-led projects in the areas of sustainable development, social enterprise and non-profit innovation.

The showcase aims to accelerate the scale and impact of student-led projects by connecting them with a network of experts in academia and industry.

While all participants in the showcase will receive dedicated training from the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland, teams will also be eligible for three RISE Awards in impact, innovation or potential. These will provide winning teams with further opportunities for acceleration and professional development.

Genovese’s design won first place in the Innovative Design for Accessibility student competition sponsored by Universities Canada in 2018, and recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Innovation Factory Pitch Night in October.

The winners of the RISE awards will be announced on Dec. 16.

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