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Mercer engineers create 3-dimensional yearbooks for blind graduates

Dr. Sinjae Hyun is using the Touch 3D Yearbook Project to make one of high school's oldest traditions accessible for all

MACON, Ga. — For over two years, Mercer engineering professor Dr. Sinjae Hyun has created three-dimensional yearbooks for visually-impaired graduates in Macon and abroad.

Using 3D printing and cast molding, the Touch 3D Yearbook Project gives students the ability to feel the faces they cannot see for years to come.

The yearbooks are the first to be created in the United States.

"It's hard for them to see their families, their friends. It's not easy," says Hyun. "It's really a kind of personal satisfaction when I see those students' smiles, that moment, that experience gave me lots of joy."

Hyun, along with fellow engineering professor Dr. Scott Schultz and over 30 Mercer students have provided custom-made yearbooks to graduates at the Georgia Academy for the Blind.

The yearbook comes in a folding, wooden frame. Each square in the frame features the mold of a classmate's face.

The project started small with 7 books and has since grown with the academy's class size.

"It's something they can take with them, a memento of their high school years," says Scott. "What Dr. Hyun has created here has given us the opportunity to use our skill set and also provide community service."

When Hyun and Scott traveled to South Korea with Mercer on Mission, students created the special yearbooks for North Korean refugees.

"It's not only constructive, but also it's a heartwarming project especially for our students," says Hyun. "We are going to serve our community with this warm-hearted project. That's what this project is about."

Due to COVID-19, Hyun and Scott had to pause yearbook production for the academy's 2020 graduating class.

However, now with students back on campus to assist, the professors plan to give those graduates their yearbooks by the end of September.

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