Shannon Kellam is full-time engineering student at EWU, president of the Rocketry Club, and a single mother to a fifth- and third-grader. As if she weren’t busy enough, Kellam also helped to build a 3D-printed prosthetic arm for Spokane Public Schools fifth-grader Isaiah Strom.
A team from EWU’s Engineering Department, which included Kellam, engineering tech Frank De Abreu and Rob Gerlick, PhD and assistant professor of mechanical engineering, used an open-source 3D design to print the prosthetic arm for Strom. De Abreu and Kellam volunteered their own time to finish building it, which, for Kellam, meant helping De Abreu shape the prosthetic and string the arm.
Kellam presented the prosthetic to Strom’s fifth-grade class at Madison Elementary, where she, De Abreu and Gerlick answered questions from the class and helped to shape the prosthetic to fit his arm, using a hairdryer to mold the plastic.
“Especially being a mom myself, to bring that kind of joy to a kid is indescribable,” she said. “Every now and then it’s nice to see what your time produces. Happiness is one of those things you can’t buy, so if you put a lot of time and effort into bringing someone else happiness, there are no words to describe that.”
Kellam always wanted to earn her degree, though she was unsure in what field when she first attended college in Montana. When she arrived at Eastern, she was determined to enter the field of chemistry or engineering, eventually deciding on mechanical engineering.
“Since being here, I’ve learned how accepting and fantastic Eastern is for nontraditional students. I honestly can’t imagine being anywhere else,” she said.
The faculty have helped Kellam adjust to being a full-time student while also a single mother – her closest family lives in Moses Lake, about an hour and a half away from Cheney. They’ve let her bring her children to class on school snow days, and let her keep her cell phone in her reach in case of emergencies.
“The faculty here don’t just enter the classroom, teach and leave,” she said. “They are interacting with students on more than just a classroom level, and it’s incredible.”
In the future, Kellam hopes to work in research and development, where she’s able to build products and correct issues before they’re finalized.