CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A group of engineering students at West Texas A&M University will be tasked with creating a prosthetic limb for a potbelly pig this fall semester.
Peg is a potbellied pig. While small now, she could one day weigh up to 60 pounds. Caretaker Lindsey Mildner said that’s normal for pigs, but Peg doesn’t have the support that they do.
“So, her front left limb is bent up and it’s small,” Lindsey Mildner said. “It’s something actually that happens in the womb. She’ll never be able to use it. It will always be bent and close to her. Potbellied pigs naturally have big bellies and they’re prone to having swayed backs, so we really need a device that will strengthen her back and keep her spine in line.”
Mildner, an educator at Lone Star Scales and Tails, brought Peg to WT in search of a solution.
“We focus a lot on human-centered engineering, how can our engineering help others?” Dr. Emily Hunt said. “And this was a perfect opportunity for my students to be able to be able to be introduced to that in a different way and actually work on a project that they can see immediate benefit from.”
Hunt is the dean of the College of Engineering at WTAMU. She said her student are thrilled to be given the chance to learn more about and potentially help Peg.
“The first thing you have to do for any project is learn all about it,” Dr. Hunt explained. “So, they’ve been learning about potbellied pigs. How big will she grow? What kind of support will she need? What is her difference called? And just trying to find out anything they can so they are prepared now that we are in the design phase.”
Sophomore Engineering Student Nathan Solomon said it’s an exciting opportunity working on a project that is so specific.
“Engineering, you build things that help people and they help millions,” Solomon said. “But this time we’re really doing something specific and you’re going to get to see this little baby pig that is super small right now, and it’s going to grow and we’re going to build something for it so it can get around.”