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Mechanical Engineering Program: Engineered to Serve Pt. 3

Behind every good story is a facilitator and a connector. That is Jody. What makes his involvement unique is he never took himself out of the equation.

Wait wait wait! Not so fast. Before you get started on this fascinating story, if you haven’t read Engineered to Serve part 1 & part 2–do that now!

Ok, welcome back! Now that you are briefed on all things Pavle, Natalie, Zoe and her family, let’s talk about how this story came to be. Behind every good story is a facilitator, a connector, a gatherer. In this story, that is Jody Claypool.

Jody Claypool has been in the orthopaedic industry since 2001. Before starting JC Innovations LLC, his current business, in 2016, Jody held multiple positions in research and development including Product Development Engineer, Product Manager, and Program Manager for a local orthopedic company.  Now he supports businesses big and small, creating products and providing services that enable his customers to meet their objectives. His work has generated more than 20 patents.

All that to say–Jody is an expert engineer. 

Jody and his friend Mike Hawkins were (and still are) members of the Optimist Club. One morning, while at an optimist club meeting, Mike shared with Jody that he had made a prosthetic for a little girl in Kentucky, and when Jody immediately expressed interest, Mike could gather that this was not the first time Jody had thought about designing prosthetics for kids who needed them. 

“Engineering prosthetics for children was on my radar,” recounted Jody. 

Mike and Jody put together a proposal to present to the Optimist Club. They proposed to partner with families of children with limb differences to make 3D printed prosthetics. After they presented it, they were blessed with an immediate response.

Jody’s presentation caught the ear of one particular elementary school principal in the room who worked with Leah Kilgore…are you starting to see the connection?

They’ve been working with Zoe and her family ever since.

Jody’s vision is to pair makers with people who have needs. His focus is to support children over their young life until they reach full maturity. As the children seek to expand their capabilities with new activities and interests, Jody and the makers are right there iterating existing designs and making new designs to support those pursuits.

Jody is also an adjunct Engineering professor at Trine. He was advising a senior design class and proposed developing new features on a prosthetic as a project. The students took on the project–and it was a success. Jody saw the opportunity to connect engineer students hungry to design something and make a difference, with people who needed the output from that effort. This also provided a great opportunity to develop a process that would enable those students to make the parts using a design control process similar to what is used in orthopedic medical device development.  A win for everyone. 

Makers: check!

Need: check!

What makes Jody’s involvement unique is that he is present. Jody is passionate about this effort and his passion drives him to be connected to the family and the students.  He met with the Kilgores and the students and played the go-between, ensuring the Kilgores were getting needs met, and that the students were understanding the process.

“Zoe’s interest guided the project,” explained Jody, “Our goal was to iterate and improve the hand every time.”

When the time with the Trine students came to an end, Jody reached out to Fred Wentorf, Dean of Engineering at Grace College, who had recently started the program at Grace. Fred was all about it. 

“What I loved immediately about this opportunity, is that it’s tailored to give our students visibility to the industry. It is the perfect blend of career advancement and impact,” stated Fred.

Last summer engineering interns worked with Zoe and were able to see the value in making real improvements for a real person.  Now, Grace Engineering has integrated this effort into its Machine Component Design course.  This is the “hands-on” part of the course. Jody has been on the journey with the Kilgores the entire way.

Jody’s favorite part of his job? It’s not a trick question.

“I love coaching and guiding a variety of personalities and working with a family from the community. My hope is to find more people to help and see this program make a much larger impact. To do that, we need to find those who have needs and find those who want to be involved,” Jody stated.

There are a lot of things that someone as gifted as Jody could be doing with his time, but this is where he chooses to invest his talents. This is what he is passionate about. This is what he feels called to.

Engineered to serve? Indeed!

To learn more about Grace’s engineering program visit

Know someone like Zoe? J.C. Innovations is partnering with individuals in Northern Indiana with limb differences to provide expanded capabilities by leveraging 3D printing, engineering expertise, and understanding. If you know of someone, want to partner with us, or just want to learn more, go to or contact Jody Claypool at J.C. Innovations.

The Engineered to Serve series with Pavle, Natalie, the Kilgores, Jody, and Fred was featured on WNDU! Watch the video here! A segment on WNIT is coming in the next few weeks, too!

Click here to see WNDU’s coverage of this story.

Tagged With: Department of Engineering, School of Science and Engineering

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