Over 100 students attended the fair. Each explained their projects to the judges walking between the tables. Everyone had the same large poster.
Research filled the tables and covered the displays. Two girls and two boys made up the rest of Beaty’s line. It was his first science fair and the intensity of the other projects was enough to intimidate. It would become apparent much later that Beaty, a rising senior, had no reason to be nervous.
Curious observers and judges made it difficult to focus on anything outside of the questions. Everyone who stopped by seemed to marvel at the 3-D prosthetic Beaty wore on his hand, with straps connected across his arm and over his shoulder to control the movement.
The 12-piece device was originally created in Erin Hattabaugh’s biomedical engineering class. When the Cleveland High teacher received a phone call from the director of the science fair, she asked Beaty if he would be interested in entering his project. Beaty answered the challenge with a redesign of the prosthetic arm, originally created with classmate T.J. Parker.
It took Beaty’s down time during school hours and study time before sports practice to finish the project. He managed to place the final touches on the prosthetic device the day he left for the science fair.
Everyone seemed interested in the project at the fair.
He reached out to shake hands with the prosthetic arm. It was a calculated move to make the scientists and engineers take note. The technology behind 3-D printing is still new enough to make a design the size of Beaty’s stand out.
“The first person who came over was super interested. They were almost in awe of how I got something that big out of a 3-D printer,” Beaty said. “They would almost stare at it more than listen to me. It helped a lot with my nerves.”
At least 20 people took the time to speak with Beaty about his project. Soon enough it was time to pack up the display and head out.
“I figured I would get a participation award and that would be it,” Beaty later said. “I came and it was a good experience. I thought, if I go next year, I will be prepared to knock the lights out.”
Hattabaugh accompanied Beaty to the science fair. She heard a rumor it would be worth their time to attend the luncheon. The two decided to stay and took their seats at a table.
However, Beaty did not stay seated for long.
His name was called for fourth place in the participation awards.
“OK,” Beaty thought as he walked to the front. “Fourth place is good.”
He returned to the table to enjoy the rest of the awards luncheon. The announcer then named him one of two high school students to receive the Polymer/Plastics Award.
Beaty walked to the winner’s table to receive his prize and have his picture taken.
“I was like, ‘This is pretty cool. This is pretty awesome,’” he recalled. “As I am walking back— not even seated yet, it was ridiculous — they started announcing the engineer awards.”
His name was called for the Engineering Award before he could return to his seat.
The scheduled awards finished with a total of three in Beaty’s name. The director of the science fair, Dr. Brian David, took to the stage. He announced there was extra prize money from the winners who had not attended the awards luncheon. Instead of keeping the money, he announced three more on-the-spot awards would be given.
He called two names before saying, “And the boy from Tennessee. Where is he at?”
Beaty explained David had a hard time remembering his name.
David explained he was very impressed with the large and functional prosthetic arm Beaty created through 3-D printing. He awarded Beaty the 3-D Printing Award.
Beaty returned to Cleveland with four awards from his first science fair.
He expressed an interest in returning to the Bridging Engineering, Science and Technology Medicine engineering fair, if his projects in the future fit the parameters of the competition.
Either way, the young Cleveland High student plans to continue his work in the engineering field.
“I am just in love with engineering,” Beaty said. “If I could work right now as an engineer of a major corporation, I would do it all day and night. I would probably sleep three hours and get back up and go to work. That is how much I am in love with engineering.”