Female STEM student used CAD software for the good

Ashley Kimbel used Solid Edge software to help a veteran in her hometown by designing, testing, and building a lighter weight and more streamlined prosthesis.

A young man on a hiking tour in the mountains. Like so many others, just that he depends on an artificial leg if he wants to enjoy the outdoors. This is how a film on Ashley Kimbel, senior student at Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S., starts. The 17-year-old girl used her engineering skills and software to make a difference for the young man.

Kendall Bane is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Shot in Afghanistan in 2012, he became partially paralyzed and decided to electively amputate his leg. “I have a pretty heavy duty foot that allows me to be very active,” he says. “But at the same time it’s a little bit heavy. Anything that requires more energy really just lets me fatigue faster.”


Bane’s brother, Devon, a Grissom High School alumn and Ashley’s race car team mentor, conducted a school initiative for engineering. Ashley was interested in conducting a biomedical project. “I always wanted to be a kind of doctor until I discovered biomedical engineering,” Ashley says. “That’s the perfect combination of medical and engineering.”

Academic program to foster STEM qualification

At Grissom High School, Siemens had granted the PLM software Solid Edge as part of a program to make this tool available to every student and educational institution in the U.S. at no cost. With Solid Edge, Ashley turned her idea of a light weight foot prothesis into a solution for Kendall Bane. 

Designed in the virtual world

Over a time span of twelve months Ashley designed, tested, and build a lighter weight and more streamlined prosthesis using Solid Edge software. “Solid Edge lets us design and test the foot before we ever actually build it,” she says. “We tell it a few things we need and then it takes all the information and it decides what’s going to maximize the strength and minimize the weight to create a part that would be the lowest weight possible.” Her goal was to cut down the weight of the whole foot from 2.5 to 1.7 pounds. 

“Awesome” results of easy-to-use CAD system

“Awesome!” was the response of Kendall Bane when he put the prothesis on for the very first time and tested it on a dirt track. “It feels strong. It feels sturdy. It does feel a lot lighter”, he’s quoted in the film. And looking into his future, he adds: “Having a lighter foot is going up possibilities that would not been there before.” Kendall is now going to better enjoy his passion for the outdoors, biking, white-water rafting and snowboarding.

If I can design this prosthetic right now, I can’t wait to see what I can design in the future.
Ashley Kimbel, Senior Student at Grissom High School, Huntsville, Alabama

Design of the future

“I don’t think this has ever been done by a 17-year old girl before,” Ashley says. And her personal view into the future sounds promising: “If I can design this prosthetic right now, I can’t wait to see what I can design in the future.”

Siemens PLM Software is committed to empowering the next generation of digital talent with the skills employers need. Today the academic partner ecosystem empowers more than one million future engineers and technologists at academic institutions worldwide to provide a strong pipeline of talent to over 140,000 commercial customers.


Academic Partner Program

May 2019

Picture credits:  Siemens AG


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