EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
"I have this skill," said Senior Airman Timothy Bergin. "Why wouldn't I use this skill I have to give back to someone else?"
As a 33rd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Bergin designs, welds, heat treats, fabricates, and machines precision tools, components, and assemblies for aerospace weapon systems and related support equipment.
While at upgrade training for computer numerical control and heating, Bergin was introduced to what would become his passion.
"I had an instructor who spent a lot of his free time working with prosthetics," said Bergin. "It was there that I realized I can use the knowledge I have to impact someone else's life."
When Bergin returned, he began researching. After nearly two months of gathering equipment, working to understand the programs and educating himself, he found a model prosthetic he felt he could improve.
The prosthetic, which is his first prototype, straps to the wrist of its wearer and contracts five individual fingers as the wrist is flexed. He made changes to the original design to improve functionality, lifespan and appearance. In addition to improvements, Bergin says he can reproduce the hand for less than $20.
The persistence and determination he showed in developing the device were no surprise to leadership in the metals technology flight.
"This perfectly fits who he is. He is the first Airman in the door and always open to helping people on and off duty," said Tech. Sgt. Michael McClellan, 33rd Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Metals Technology Flight assistant noncommissioned officer in charge. "He is exhibiting the whole Airman concept. He is giving back to the community that has enabled him to learn this skillset through the Air Force. Not only is he here serving and fighting for freedom, he is giving back even more."
Now that he has found this passion, Bergin is looking to grow it. He hopes to find someone he can help. He is open to helping whoever he can but believes his design would be most suitable for a child because of its low cost.
"Kids never stop growing," said Bergin. "Parents may not be able to afford a prosthetic and kids will grow out of them of in a few years."
Bergin says he got to this point by setting goals, but he is excited to see how much further he can go.
"Push yourself to your full potential, whatever that is," said Bergin. "Set goals at anything. My goal is to learn everything I can about computer numerical control. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of what is possible."