Joseph Anand, 15, is an electronics whiz with a heart of gold. When the Akron, Ohio, then–ninth grader read news reports about injured veterans returning from Afghanistan, he immediately thought he could use his robotics knowledge to make their lives at home a little easier. “I want to be an Air Force pilot,” Joseph says. “So it felt good to think that I could help the military in some small way.”
The teen turned his family’s living room into a workshop and took a year to create a motorized pulley system that can be calibrated by a physical therapist to help soldiers exercise. The device also has a built-in sensor that monitors and adjusts weights to provide the right amount of resistance.
Joseph’s father, Vijay, an electrical engineer, offered technical assistance, and a University of Akron computer science professor taught the youngster software coding. Joseph tested the prototype on a giant teddy bear.
In September 2013, Joseph demonstrated his device at the World Maker Faire New York, a gathering of amateur inventors. Now he’s putting on the final touches and has filed for a patent. His goal is to have the device approved for official testing at veterans’ hospitals, but first he’s turning his attention to his studies. “I have high school to finish and college to start, so it might take a year or two to test the device in real life,” says Joseph.
Regardless of the timeline, giving back will always be part of Joseph’s life, he says. “My parents taught me that if you’re blessed with a talent, you use it to help others.”