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December 16, 2011 AT 2:39 pm

Don’t Know How? Well, Find Someone Who Does

Pt 303

Don’t Know How? Well, Find Someone Who Does @ NYTimes.com.

IS advanced technical knowledge necessary to become an inventor? Look at the story of Katherine Bomkamp, and you will see that it isn’t.

Ms. Bomkamp, 20, came up with the idea behind the Pain Free Socket, a prosthetic device that is intended to ease phantom limb pain in amputees. The device, now awaiting a patent, works by applying heat to the amputee’s joint socket through thermal biofeedback. The theory is that as the nerve endings are warmed, the brain is forced to focus on the heat rather than send signals to the absent limb.

Now a sophomore at West Virginia University, Ms. Bomkamp was in high school when she began working on her invention. At the time, she had zero background in chemical or electrical engineering, which were essential to the creation of the device.

“It was all completely foreign to me. I had no interest in engineering before this,” said Ms. Bomkamp, who was a criminal-justice major at her magnet high school in Maryland. In college, she’s studying political science, with plans to attend law school.


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