When Kristin Higgins started taking biomedical engineering courses, it all clicked. In her first few years of studying, she didn’t see herself in traditional mechanical engineering jobs, but really wanted to help people directly — biomedical engineering was a good pathway to do that.
“I just didn’t see myself in a classic mechanical engineering position, because it was all just like cars, plants, energy, and I just felt like there was no way to actually connect with people,” she explains. “That’s why I want to do rehabilitation engineering and that sort of thing, because it so much more directly impacts people’s lives and the quality of their lives.”
As a student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, she volunteered with the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, and did her senior design project with them, designing an inexpensive child-sized elbow brace for a nine year old girl with a brachial plexus injury.
Through Stan Cassidy, she learned about Makers Making Change and decided to apply for a summer student position.
Since joining the Makers Making Change team, she’s largely been focused on adapted toys, particularly increasing the number of adapted toys in the assistive device library.
“One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of toys are made in a really similar way, so once you get into this, it is pretty easy to do a whole bunch,” Kristin explains. “I’ve learned more about what children need these toys face, because a lot of them online are so expensive, like I’m building them for the price of the toy plus maybe like $10 of parts, but the toys available online are like $100, and it used to be $30, so it’s been really eye opening that way.
“I’ve been exposed to a lot more of how making assistive tech, open source, and this platform that we’re working on is so impactful, and it makes things so much more accessible for people that need the technology.”
Kristin will be starting her Master’s in Biomechanics in September at McGill University, where as a former ballet dancer, she will be studying pointe shoes and how dancers interact with their ballet shoes for her thesis.
“I have really liked it so far. I really just like the atmosphere, and the people, really. A lot of times the people make or break a job,” she says of working at Makers Making Change. “Everyone’s easy to get along with, and very willing to help.”