Limbitless Solutions, a research center in the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) research enterprise, was awarded an $84,000 program-elevating grant from Walt Disney World as a result of innovative design and engineering to help others. The latest investment in the Disney Grants program totals $1.5 million in donations and celebrates 19 different nonprofit organizations and leaders that are making a positive impact in Central Florida.
“We are so grateful to be awarded this Disney Grant and the opportunity to grow our program and impact,” says Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD, executive director of UCF’s Limbitless Solutions program. “This will enable our program to provide more opportunities that can unleash the potential of our students and create magical moments for our bionic kids and families.”
Disney’s investment helps local organizations, like Limbitless Solutions, continue making big differences in the lives of many Floridians and their families in areas including education, workforce development, arts and entertainment, homelessness, hunger and more. It is also another step forward in Disney World’s more than 50-year history of helping Florida thrive.
As one of 19 recipient organizations, Limbitless Solutions was recognized for its work to address the need for affordable, multi-gesture bionic prosthetics for children born without an arm. Through its student scholar program, Limbitless has supported more than 325 students since 2014 through innovative technology and developing a more experienced and professional workforce. In 2021, Limbitless Solutions also opened a new research lab in UCF’s Research Park dedicated to expanding its bionics research and undergraduate research.
To further empower the workforce of tomorrow, Limbitless will leverage the grant from Walt Disney World to grow its student scholars program by an impressive 30% — welcoming an additional 16 University of Central Florida students into the program. This expansion reflects Limbitless’ unwavering commitment to nurturing the next generation of professionals.
Limbitless Solutions currently operates as a uniquely interdisciplinary environment with opportunities for students across many of UCF’s colleges — creating innovators across teams from art and medicine to public relations and computer science. Limbitless additionally invests in these students through a cohort focused on professional branding and workplace-focused topics, in addition to projects where they are engaged with creating expressive bionics, accessibility projects, research and storytelling.
“Being a part of the Limbitless team has pushed me in ways I didn’t even know I was capable of, and I will always be grateful for this experience,” says Emily Peterson, a 2023 Limbitless Scholar program alumna.
Based at UCF, Limbitless uses 3D printing and in-house manufacturing to develop and advance bionic arms for children — focused on reducing the weight and cost compared to traditional devices, in addition to accessibility devices and video game training platforms. Led by UCF faculty members Matt Dombrowski ’05 ’08MFA with the School of Visual Arts and Design and Peter Smith ’05MS ’12PhD with the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, Limbitless accessibility technology uniquely leverages video game-based training that converts muscle flexing into the video game character’s actions.
Limbitless is excited for the impact the grant will have on the program by expanding the growth of its student workforce development program and providing enrichment opportunities with corporate and industry partners that enable job-ready students to be competitive in their fields.
We’re grateful for the support of Disney and our partners in growing our undergraduates into dynamic innovators and professionals and impacting current and future bionic families.