Connally High students building prosthetic for three-legged dog

Justin Andrews-Moreno (right) visits with Pirate, an 11-year-old Labrador/Dalmatian mix, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 at Connally High School. (Connally High Photo)
Justin Andrews-Moreno (right) visits with Pirate, an 11-year-old Labrador/Dalmatian mix, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 at Connally High School. (Connally High Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An engineering class at Connally High School in North Austin is busy working to make a prosthetic for an 11-year-old dog that lost his leg several years ago.

Students in Theodore Moldenhauer’s Concepts of Engineering Technology class are creating three prosthetic devices for Pirate, a black and white Labrador/Dalmatian mix they met last Friday.

“The idea when you start designing, is to come up with not one idea, but with a lot of different ideas,” Moldenhauer said. “And think about which idea is the best one, and then develop that idea.”

The class of 13 will use a 3D printer to make the devices. They expect to have the project finished in the next few months.

Bryant Meadors and Katrina Dvorcek adopted Pirate shortly after the amputation four years ago in Washington. Students enjoyed petting Pirate and visiting with Meadors and Dvorcek on Friday.

They aren’t sure how Pirate lost his leg, but were told it may have been caught in a bear trap. Moldenhauer learned about Pirate through a fellow teacher.

He says the project will be focused on the process rather than jumping in and building something. “We’ll be holding them back and making sure it’s based on design, and that the design is based on the constraints.”

Pirate needs a prosthetic that will support his hip, especially after an incident that left him skittish on slippery floors. Moldenhauer said, “We’ll predict performance using performance metrics, do a little testing, refine and come up with one final product.”

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