The week that would change Terrie Webb’s life is one she doesn’t remember.
In that week, the then-57-year-old orthodontist clinic admin from Prince George County, Virginia, was rushed from a doctor’s appointment about her swollen, purple hand straight into emergency surgery. Where her memory picks back up, she recalls being informed she’d suffered a blood clot that traveled to her shoulder. Despite the emergency surgery, she’d lost the full functionality of her right hand — and subsequently, her job.
After a year spent recovering, Webb was encouraged by a friend to turn her flower gardening hobby into her new full-time job as a farmer. In doing so, Webb was entering deeper into an occupation inextricably linked to physical capability. How would she tend to her snapdragons and lisianthus flowers without the full functionality of one of her hands?
The answer for Webb — and possibly for farmers across the U.S. with similar stories — was found in an engineering lab.
Read the full story, see the videos I produced, and view my photos via Virginia Tech Engineer, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s award-winning alumni magazine. An alternate version of this story also appears in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni magazine.