Insanity is the word Aaron Westbrook uses to describe going to college while managing a nonprofit organization, Form5 Prosthetics.

But the 19-year-old New Albany High School graduate said that even when life gets crazy, he has no doubt he is doing what he was put on this earth to do.

For Westbrook, that is giving those with limb differences -- like him -- the opportunity to play an active role in the design of their prosthetic devices, most of which are 3D-printed from recycled materials and made available to them free of charge, he said.

Westbrook, now a Columbus resident and a freshman business major at Ohio State University, was recognized for his efforts March 1, when he was named New Albany's COSI STEM Star. Winners of the award will serve as grand marshals during the four-day COSI Science Festival in May.

Westbrook was speaking to New Albany Primary School students about his nonprofit March 1 when he was surprised by COSI officials with the STEM Star award.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District and the city of New Albany nominated Westbrook for the award, which recognizes a community member as a champion of science. COSI has recognized six other individuals or couples with the distinction.

Westbrook's efforts, said Superintendent Michael Sawyers, represent what students should do after graduating. Westbrook took his disability and used it as an ability to help others, he said.

"He's a fantastic example of a New Albany High School graduate," Sawyers said.

Mayor Sloan Spalding said he met Westbrook at a TEDx event in 2016.

Westbrook, Spalding said, overcame a challenge and used that passion to help others.

When COSI asked city leaders to identify someone in the New Albany community who deserved a COSI STEM Star award, "it didn't take us very long to zero in on Aaron Westbrook and the great things he's done with Form5," he said.

Westbrook, who was born without a hand and wrist on his right arm, started researching 3D printing as a way to make prosthetics during his sophomore year. His blog, Alive with 5, led him to create Form5 upon graduating high school.

Now, he's working to collect recycled plastic -- No. 5 propylene plastic, specifically -- to make more 3D-printed prosthetic devices.

Last summer, he worked with five individuals to outfit them with prosthetics, he said.

Though Westbrook's organization specializes in creating upper-extremity prosthetic devices, he has been researching 3D-printed prosthetic legs.

Since August, his organization also has a home -- lab space in Gahanna with three 3D printers. He said he is working to engineer a plastic shredder that could optimize the ability to convert recycled plastic into usable material for the 3D printers.

This fall, Westbrook is planning an event in which engineers and designers can connect with individuals who want to design their own prosthetic devices.

"People with limb differences know better than anyone else what they need," he said.

To learn more about Westbrook and Form5, go to form5prostheticsinc.org.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah