Shawnee Mission graduate creates prosthetic that lets people play violin by flexing their toes

Akshay Dinakar with his Stradavinci prosthetic.

On a Friday evening, the students in the dorm where Akshay Dinakar serves as an RA were preparing for a night out on the town. But Dinakar, a Stanford junior and 2015 graduate of Shawnee Mission East, found himself drawn to an idea that had him sequestered inside his room.

Dinakar, an accomplished violist who has played with the National Youth Orchestra, had been thinking of ways to marry his passion for music with his study of product design. Over the previous couple years, he’d come up with a design for an electric violin that could be rendered by anyone with a 3-D printer. Now, he was wondering if it was possible to devise a prosthetic that would allow someone without an arm to play the violin or cello.