Central student reaches semis in national space design competition


Central York’s Patrick O’Neill, 16, was named one of ten finalists for 3-D printing design in ASME Foundation/NASA contest.

A Central York student who started a prosthetic club for children in need has reached the semifinals of a NASA design competition that may land his design permanently etched on the International Space Station (ISS).

Out of hundreds of submissions, Patrick O’Neill, 16, is one of 10 students age 13 to 19 from across the country who have reached the semifinals in the “Two for the Crew” challenge, a competition organized by Future Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation and NASA.

Students are challenged to design a multi-use tool that combines two instruments currently used by crews at the ISS.

The winning design earns a lucky student a trip to Washington, D.C., for a VIP experience on space exploration, a 3-D printer for their school or library, and they get their design printed in the ISS Advanced Manufacturing Facility.

‘Exciting’: Patrick’s design, the “Crescent Moon,” combines an adjustable crescent wrench with a textured plier, a design he said he came up with after researching the ISS toolbox.

“It’s definitely an honor being in this stage alone, but it’s definitely exciting to move on to the (next) stage,” he said.

Patrick spent three months perfecting the design and estimated he created more than 15 versions of Crescent Moon with his 3-D printer at home before creating the final working version submitted to the judges.

He credited his teacher Dianna Guise for applying for the competition and his former drafting and CAD teacher Sean Blasetti for introducing him to the software used to design the tool.

Blasetti said while he currently doesn’t have Patrick in class, he sees him often since the Central York Junior stops into his classroom during the “flex” study hall period to use the design software

“Patrick has always been one — you can see it in his eyes — (who) gets it quickly,” Blasetti said.

“He’s always setting his own goals, (and) I think he deserves to win.”

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“Like all of our Future Engineers participants, Patrick’s creativity and technical skills merged together beautifully to not just create a 3D print, but to innovate a new way that astronauts may manufacture and use future tools in space,” said Future Engineering CEO Deanne Bell in a statement.

“We admire his ingenuity and I wish Patrick and all of the semifinalists the best of luck in the next round.”

e-NABLE: During his freshman year of high school, Patrick was trying to get involved in a club at his mother Nancy’s behest but couldn’t find any that interested him.

Ever since Patrick could pick up a toy, he’s gravitated toward objects that were connected, whether it was a Lego brick or a computer program where he could create something out of scratch, Nancy said.

Ultimately, Patrick decided to create his own club, e-NABLE, to design and produce prosthetic hands for children around the world.

The club has about 15 members and is aiming to produce 50 prosthetic hands this year, double the amount the club produced last year.

Currently, the group produces all of the prosthetic arms using Patrick’s personal 3-D printer, but he hopes to win the “Two for the Crew” competition to leave a 3D printer at Central so the club can continue after he graduates.

While he hopes to go all the way, in some ways, Patrick already feels like he won.

“It’s great to see that when you work hard at something you get (recognized this way),” Patrick said.

“It’s an awesome feeling.”

What’s next: Patrick now moves on to the next round where four students in his age group will be the final four candidates for judges to consider.

The four finalists in each age group will be announced on Feb. 19, followed by the winners announcement on March 14.

Click here to view Patrick’s “Crescent Moon” design.

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