Abby Hinson ’17 grew up in Auburn before attending Auburn University for her undergraduate degree. She majored in Industrial Design and was a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, the Auburn University Marching Band and Industrial Designers Society of America.
What led you to choose to go to Auburn University and why did you pick your major?
I grew up in Auburn and have always known that this is where I wanted to go. Auburn has a top-ranked industrial design program, and I knew that I wanted to pursue design since I was a sophomore in high school, so that was an easy choice! I also love the atmosphere surrounding the town, especially during football season.
Do you have any vivid memories about your time at Auburn University that stand out to you? Moments of inspiration, success or lessons learned?
I will never forget my freshman year (2013) making the marching band and having an amazing season. Being able to say I was at the “Kick- Six” game is AMAZING.
I think my biggest success in college was surrounding myself with a great group of friends. I believe the people you surround yourself with say a lot about you. They were always there when I needed help or just wanted to have fun.
Could you talk about how you got involved with your current career as a prosthetics technician? What led you to pursue that line of work and go from Auburn to Baltimore? What motivates you?
I took a studio on Assistive Technologies (taught by Jerrod Windham) the spring semester of my junior year. The studio focused on using 3D printing and how we can implement that into designing assistive technology. I was paired with two friends (Hannah Conrad and Leigh Anne Alfano) to work on the project. Our focus was on a client (and Army veteran) who had lost her arm. She wanted to be able to play the cello again. The project went really well and from that opportunity, I got an internship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland for the summer after I graduated from college. I had an amazing time there learning more about prosthetics. And then I got hired up in Baltimore that fall! I love being able to give something back to someone and help them get back to everyday life. These people get to go out in the world wearing something that you have made, and it’s a pretty cool feeling.
What are your responsibilities as a prosthetics technician? Could talk about some of the details of your job and how your time at Auburn helped prepare you for it?
I hand-make every prosthetic. I start from a plaster mold of the residual limb and build the layers from the inside-out. I will change the layers of materials I use depending on each patient’s need. If they are super active, you want to make sure that the socket can withstand certain activities. I work with a lot of carbon fiber, nylon and fiberglass when constructing the sockets.
During my time studying industrial design at Auburn, I learned a lot about how humans interact with products. And I have landed in a field where the product you are making is physically worn by someone. A lot of little details go into making a socket and those decisions of how the patient will be interacting with the socket can make a world of difference.
What does the future look like for you? What are the goals and dreams for your future that you have?
My future (as of right now) is to continue learning as much as I can about prosthetics and the new technologies shaping this field’s future. I would love to get into the research and development side of the field. I would love to design something that helps the patient achieve a goal that they didn’t think was possible.