BHR Engineering students create lifelike robotic hand

Engineeering students Devin Lynch, left, and Kevin Dedos with the robotic hand they constructed.  Photo by Judy Bass.

By Judy Bass

When Blue Hills Regional Technical School Engineering students give someone a hand, they mean it literally because they can fabricate one that mirrors the appearance, size and dexterity of an actual hand.

Constructing this marvel was the project that Dr. Michael Meyers, Lead Teacher in the school’s Engineering Technology program, gave to his students.

“In their junior year,” Meyers said, “I give the students a complex problem to solve based on assistive technology, which helps people with disabilities.  This year’s project was that they had to produce a prosthetic hand that was fully movable and able to reproduce all the motions of the human hand.  This is a design engineering project based on the engineering design process.”

Meyers explained that this intricate effort required knowledge of electronics, as well as mechanical and computer engineering.  Also, all the parts for it were made in-house using a state-of-the-art 3D printer.

There were many aspects to the project, affirmed two of Meyers’ students, Devin Lynch and Kevin Dedos, both of Holbrook, who created the hand.

They had to do research on prosthetics, create drawings of how they envisioned the hand looking, brainstorm, manufacture the parts, do the wiring, and produce a system of simulated tendons, which they accomplished using 15-pound fishing line.

The result is amazing.  The hand’s fingers each close and raise to full height, they can grasp small objects, and the entire hand seems to have great flexibility. Lynch and Dedos were even able to manipulate the hand so it clasped a pencil securely.


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BHR Thanks Braintree-based Haemonetics for Their Assistance with Governor’s Vocational Opportunity Challenge Grant

BHR Director of Vocational Programs Frank Howley (left) presents Paul McGovern, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Research & Development, at Haemonetics, with a copy of the certificate the school received commemorating the grant from the Governor’s Vocational Opportunity Challenge Program.

By Judy Bass

This spring, Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton received a grant for $25,000 to purchase equipment in the second year of the Patrick Administration’s Vocational Opportunity Challenge (VOC) competitive grant program.

“We needed to partner with either a college of a business so we could get feedback about what to purchase that students needed experience with in order to prepare them for a career in a particular industry,” said Blue Hills Director of Vocational Programs Francis Howley. “We partnered with Haemonetics in Braintree, [a global leader that specializes in blood management for places like hospitals and blood collection centers], who were very gracious to host us so we could get feedback. We hope to partner with Haemonetics so our students will have co-op opportunities and internships there.”

On Sept. 5, Howley presented Paul McGovern, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Research & Development, at Haemonetics with a copy of the certificate the school received commemorating this grant, which Howley said will be used to purchase a state-of-the-art milling machine for the Engineering program.

McGovern said, “A solid technical background is the foundation of a competent engineer. This grant will be used provide the tools required to obtain those skills.  Having an understanding of how things are actually made is critical to the success of any designer.    Blue Hills has a great program which combines the technical and scholastic training to prepare the student for an engineering or engineering technology degree.”

“When the grant opportunity came out,” said Howley, “we understood that STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] initiatives are highly stressed, so along with [Blue Hills Lead Engineering Instructor] Dr. Mike Meyers, we contacted companies in the area that had that particular background. The Research and Development Dept. [at Haemonetics], particularly Paul McGovern, was instrumental in giving us the feedback we needed to write an effective grant that would be accepted, and it was.”

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“Reverse” Career Fair on Monday, October 6 from 8:30 to 10:30 am


Blue Hills Regional Technical High School cordially invites you to our annual “REVERSE” CAREER FAIR.  Blue Hills Regional Technical School is a Vocational School located in Canton, MA.  We have 16 vocational programs.  Students will be available in their vocational program for you to meet.

Please enter the building at the front entrance (by the flag pole) and stop at security booth.  There will be students to escort you to the vocational programs of interest.

DATE: MONDAY, October 6, 2014

TIME: 8:30 – 10:30 AM

LOCATION:  800 Randolph Street, Canton, MA 02021

Computer Technology                                      Auto Technology

Cosmetology                                                       Collision Repair & Refinishing

Culinary Arts                                                       Construction Tech

Design & Visual Communications                       Electrical

Drafting/CAD                                                          Electronics

Early Education & Care                                        HVAC & R

Engineering                                                             Metal Fabrication

Graphic Communications                                    Health Occupations

There will be an opportunity for you to meet our students in their vocational programs and also meet the instructors.  Please ask how you can become a member of our advisory board.

Please RSVP to:  Kimberly Poliseno at or

(781) 828-5800 x327

What is a reverse career fair?  Instead of students going to a central location, we invite you to visit with the students in their shops.—

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Sports for the week of 9.14.14

Sports for the week of 9.14.14

Please click on the link above to see schedule





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BHR Grad Michael Riley ’13 Organizes and Hosts Wishing Well Gala to Benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mass. and R.I. on October 25, 2014 at Lombardo’s in Randolph

Blue Hills Grad Michael Riley ’13

By Judy Bass

Most nineteen-year-olds are busy working or going to school, leading a hectic social life, and trying to figure out their place in this complex, topsy-turvy world.

Michael Riley is doing all that, plus making wishes come true for seriously ill children.

This remarkable young man is the host and chief organizer of the Wishing Well Gala to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at Lombardo’s, at 6 Billings St. in Randolph.

The heartfelt passion in Riley’s voice spills over when he describes what it means to him to put smiles on the faces of youngsters facing life-threatening medical crises.

Riley, a Holbrook resident and 2013 graduate of Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton, where he studied Culinary Arts, is unstinting in his efforts for deserving kids.  Even though he works full-time at the Olive Garden restaurant in Stoughton as a server, host, trainer, and orders to-go specialist, he said it’s not unusual for him to come home after his shift ends, roll up his sleeves and then get to work masterminding this gala, sometimes until 3 am if necessary.

“It means everything to me,” Riley explained with characteristic modesty and enthusiasm.  “It’s an honor to be a part of this.  I want to do as much as I can because I can do it.”

The gala, which begins at 7:00 pm and ends at midnight, costs $60 per person, or $500 for a table of 10 people.  Tickets are available by going to  Interested parties are asked to purchase tickets by the second week in October if possible.  Dinner, which begins at 8:00 pm, will feature oven-baked cod, red-wine braised short ribs, oven-baked ziti, and a dessert display.  There will also be a silent auction and raffles.  Riley can be contacted by calling 781-917-4193 or by email at

This particular event is not Riley’s first foray into humanitarian endeavors.  In 2011, he ran a breast cancer fundraiser that raised $2,000.   The following year, Riley helmed a Toys for Tots fundraiser that generated some 500 toys for “children who aren’t so fortunate and lack what people take for granted.”

Riley’s maturity and character, as well as his wisdom and insight into the plight of sick youngsters and their families, are truly striking given his age.  So is his refusal to seek accolades for himself.

“It’s not for me,” he insisted, “it’s for Make-A-Wish.  This is for the greater picture, and it’s for the kids.”

He’s aiming for a total of $15,000 in proceeds from the gala, enough to grant two children’s wishes.  “It’ll be the happiest day for me [if that happens],” Riley declared.

Blue Hills Regional played a major role in stoking his desire to be active philanthropically.  Riley was a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS), whose advisor, English teacher Rebecca Ray, exhorted him to follow his heart.

“She was kind of a mentor,” said Riley.  “She told me there is no limit, I could do whatever I want if I tried hard enough.”

Under Ray’s energetic guidance, NHS students at Blue Hills Regional have run humanitarian events like “Cuts for a Cure” to raise funds and awareness about cancer by having participants shave their heads to indicate solidarity with cancer patients or donate money, as well as “Crutches for Africa,” a drive held in conjunction with the Dedham-based Neponset Valley Sunrise Rotary Club to collect crutches and other devices that help people in Africa with ambulatory difficulties who may not have access to these much-needed items.

Speaking of those successful examples of outreach for charitable purposes, Riley said, “It gave me hope that you can do this and raise a good amount of money.”

It’s clear that his “I met Mikey Riley in 2009,” said Ray. “What was particularly special about [his Toys for Tots drive] was that he single-handedly organized it, knocked on doors, wrote to family and friends, and used social media to collect over 500 toys. Since then Mikey hasn’t stopped.  In December 2012, he came to me and said, “I want to do more.” He remembered me speaking about Make-A-Wish and the impact it made on my family even after [my nephew] Brandon’s death and he began to look into ways to help. Gradually, he found more families he knew that had been affected by terminal illness and had their wishes granted. When he researched it, he learned that a typical wish costs about $7,500, so he came to me a year after he was in college and he said, “I want to hold a gala.” I encouraged him. After all, he was only seven years old when he opened up a neighborhood lemonade stand to raise money for a sick boy he knew, a story told to me by his mother.”

Ray continued, “With the formation of a committee, help from his friends and family, and again with his own tenacity, he is determined to succeed. At 19 years old with little guidance from adults, he has organized, contacted, and created every aspect of the evening to come with one goal – to grant two wishes.”

Riley’s esteem for the Blue Hills Regional staff is evident in the composition of the gala’s steering committee because three out of the six members are from the school: Ms. Ray; Spanish teacher Ms. Ana Peach; her husband, Joe Amador; Vocational Secretary Deborah Beane; Riley’s cousin, Jen Riley; and of course Riley himself.

As for the future, Riley isn’t quite sure what he wants to do career-wise.  After spending one semester at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., he decided to take online classes from Massasoit Community College.  He’s already an expert at one key skill – multi-tasking.

“It doesn’t get tiring,” Riley insisted when asked about his jam-packed schedule.  “I love doing it.”















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Serving Her Country with Courage and Distinction: BHR Graduate Mary Gallagher ’91

Mary Gallagher in Iraq.  Photo courtesy Mary Gallagher.

By Judy Bass

Sleeping in a tent under the night sky at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in 2001, watching tracers cut a glittering path across the soaring darkness overhead, Mary Gallagher could hardly believe the whirlwind of international events that had taken her from her home in Massachusetts to this ancient, exotic land thousands of miles away.

“Oh, my God,” she recalls thinking, “this is for real.”

Her induction into the turbulent post-9/11 world had begun, an experience that would eventually bring Gallagher around the globe during 12 tours of duty in places such as England, Africa and Iraq as an intel analyst dealing with highly sensitive information for the US Air Force.

Gallagher, now 42, formerly a resident of Dedham who currently lives in Norwood, graduated from Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton in 1991, where she studied Graphic Communications.   A friend of her mother’s had suggested that she consider Blue Hills as a potential high school choice, so Gallagher took a tour of the school.

“I fell in love with it immediately,” she says, feeling that enrolling at this school could help her figure out what she wanted to do for a career and provide attractive options for her down the road professionally.

Her expectations, she said, were borne out by the practicality and value of the vocational training she received.  “I was head and shoulders over other kids getting out of high school,” Gallagher noted appreciatively, explaining that she had been well-educated at Blue Hills to handle responsibilities, develop a strong work ethic, communicate effectively with others, adhere to a dress code, and deal with a superior, all skills which would come in handy for Gallagher later on in the military.

After her graduation from Blue Hills, Gallagher said she worked in the Graphic Arts field, then spent a semester at Massasoit Community College, earned her associate’s degree from Quincy College, and got a degree in communications from Curry College in Milton.

In 2001, at the age of 27, Gallagher joined the Air Force so she could finish college under the provisions of the GI Bill.  Another factor in her desire to be involved in the military was a long-standing tradition of public service in her family.  Gallagher said that her brother was in the US Army, retired, then joined the CIA;  her father served in Korea; and her mother’s uncle was at Iwo Jima during World War II.

So Gallagher signed up, never anticipating being caught in the outbreak of military action in the Middle East as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

In fact, while she was at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Mass., prior to 9/11 as a member of the Reserves, Gallagher recalls that she and others were told that the last time Westover was activated was decades ago, during the Korean War in the 1950s.  In accordance with peacetime requirements, Gallagher was only required to spend one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year participating.

That changed dramatically on an exquisitely clear September morning when two hijacked airliners struck the World Trade Center in New York, another crashed in Shanksville, Pa., and a fourth hit the Pentagon, killing 125 people in the iconic building, along with all the passengers, crew and hijackers aboard the plane.

(Gallagher’s brother was actually at the Pentagon that day, she said, but was fortunately uninjured.)

“For me,” said Gallagher, “it seems like yesterday.”  Westover, she remembered, quickly got a fateful phone call to alert everyone that the Pentagon had been hit, and a scramble ensued to watch the unimaginable news on TV.

A week later, Gallagher was activated.  Three weeks later, she was in Afghanistan.

Gallagher’s duties would culminate in a position in Mission Support for Air Force Special Command, which, at that time, Gallagher said, was comprised of only 30 people with the security clearance and the training to do the job.  Although she is still constrained, for security reasons, not to divulge details, Gallagher did say that she was part of a support group for Special Forces, and would brief SEALS, Rangers, and other “hard chargers” using classified and sensitive information.

She also worked for the National Security Space Office (NSSO), which handles highly classified information.

It wasn’t a breeze, Gallagher said candidly.  “You had to roll with the punches,” she explained.  She typically put in 17 to 20 grueling hours a day processing a lot of material, multi-tasking, thinking on her feet, and developing, of necessity, a thick skin so as not to take things personally in that high-stakes, breakneck-paced environment.

In 2009, Gallagher was wounded when she was in Baghdad a month before elections were held.  There was a hospital on the military base that was admitting casualties after a bomb had gone off in a bazaar.  So many seriously hurt people required immediate attention that everyone who was available pitched in to rush them into the medical facility.

Gallagher recalls a badly injured little girl she was helping during that desperate emergency amidst a fierce exchange of gunfire.  A massive explosion suddenly rocked the area, Gallagher was lifted right off her feet by the powerful blast, and the next thing she was aware of was waking up in a hospital in Germany, where she was treated for her injuries.

Gallagher returned to the United States at Christmas 2009 and retired from the Air Force in November 2012.

Being back home meant starting the process of recovering physically and emotionally from the high toll taken on her by military service during wartime.  One positive step Gallagher took toward restoring her health occurred when her sister got her involved in State Rep. Karyn Polito’s run for Massachusetts State Treasurer in 2010.  “It was the first time I enjoyed doing something [after my injury],” Gallagher said.

Polito, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor and the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, said in an email, “Mary is a kind and courageous person, with a rock-solid core.  She is someone you can always depend on to deliver on a promise.  She is a person of enormous strength and talent, and by her own example, inspired me each and every day to work my very best in my campaign for public office.  I admire Mary, and thank her for her service to our country.”

Coming from a politically-involved family, it was almost natural for Gallagher to jump in behind the scenes to again play a role.  Today, she works for Mass Victory, an arm of the Massachusetts Republican Party which helps GOP candidates.

Reflecting on her military service, Gallagher said, “I gave everything of myself.”  It was important to her to “serve a higher cause,” especially in the aftermath of 9/11.  There were certainly sacrifices she made along the way.  For example, her father died in 2005, while she was stationed in Germany.  Gallagher lost friends, she said; some of them will never be the same, like the one she movingly described who watched aghast as hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 swooped down before striking the Pentagon on 9/11 – so low, in fact, that he glimpsed the terror-stricken faces of the doomed passengers through the plane’s windows as they struggled to figure out their location in those last few moments before the horrific lethal impact.

As for herself, Gallagher expressed her pleasure at all the success Blue Hills Regional Technical School, her beloved alma mater, is having, and vowed to keep serving the community and the state in whatever capacity she can.

Right now, she feels home at last.













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