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Design Projects to Quantify the Health and Development of Autistic Children

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.374.1 - 24.374.19



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Paper Authors


Steve Warren Kansas State University

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Steve Warren received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University in 1989 and 1991, respectively, followed by a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1994. Dr. Warren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Kansas State University. Prior to joining KSU in August 1999, Dr. Warren was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. He directs the KSU Medical Component Design Laboratory, a facility partially funded by the National Science Foundation that provides resources for the research and development of distributed medical monitoring technologies and learning tools that support biomedical contexts. His research focuses on (1) plug-and-play, point-of-care medical monitoring systems that utilize interoperability standards, (2) wearable sensors and signal processing techniques for the determination of human and animal physiological status, and (3) educational tools and techniques that maximize learning and student interest. Dr. Warren is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

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Punit Prakash Kansas State University

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Punit Prakash obtained the B.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2004), and the M.S. (2006) and Ph.D. (2008) degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since August 2012, he is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State University. His research interests are in therapeutic medical devices, image-guided therapy systems, bioheat transfer, medical instrumentation, and biomedical engineering education. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on medical instrumentation and therapeutic medical devices.

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Ed Brokesh Dept. of Bio and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University

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Ed Brokesh is an instructor of engineering design in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department at Kansas State University with teaching, extension and advising responsibilities. His primary teaching area focuses on basic engineering design concepts related to the development of biological and agricultural systems. Ed teaches the senior engineering design course in Biological Systems Engineering and has advised a number of student design projects which have aided disabled Kansas residents.

Mr. Brokesh joined the K-State BAE department in 2008 following a 24 year career as a senior design engineer working in the livestock, grain handling and ATV industries. Mr. Brokesh brings this industry experience to the classroom in order that students can better relate engineering concepts to practice. Mr. Brokesh is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Kansas.

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Gary William Singleton Ph.D. Heartspring


Kim Fowler

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Kim Fowler has spent 32 years in the design, development, and project management of medical, military, and satellite equipment. His interest is in the rigorous development of safety-critical and mission-critical, embedded systems. Kim co-founded Stimsoft, a medical products company, that sold it in 2003. He has also worked for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a company now part of Curtiss-Wright Embedded Computing that built digital signal processing boards. He was President of the IEEE I&M society for 2010 and 2011 and has been an adjunct professor for the Johns Hopkins University Engineering Professional Program. He lectures internationally on systems engineering and developing real-time embedded products. Kim has published widely, written seven textbooks and is completing an eighth. He has 18 patents - granted, pending, or disclosed. Kim currently consults in technical product development for both commercial companies and government agencies and is a PhD graduate student in Electrical Engineering at Kansas State University.

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Design Projects to Quantify the Health and Development of Autistic ChildrenAbstractAutism is an increasingly diagnosed condition in children, where reported prevalence rates arenow as high as one in 88 children. Much remains to be learned about the roles that technologycan play to (a) “quantify” the health status and development of an autistic child and (b) mosteffectively aid their classroom learning and their development in terms of activities of dailyliving. Further, the needs of this population are tremendous and varied, providing a wide-opendesign space for students in all engineering curricula.This work-in-progress paper provides an overview of design experiences geared toward autisticchildren served by Heartspring in Wichita, KS. These experiences are supported by severaldepartments in the Kansas State University (KSU) College of Engineering. The first facet of thiswork relates to thought exercises managed in ECE 571 – Introduction to BiomedicalEngineering, where upper-level undergraduate engineering students are introduced to the needsof the autistic community and then asked to propose, in a formal report/paper, a design projectthat can help to assess or aid an autistic child. The second facet of this work relates to seniordesign projects supported with materials funding through the National Science Foundation’sGeneral and Age-Related Disabilities Engineering (GARDE) program. These projects currentlyengage about 30 students and faculty in five formal design-project courses and informal specialtopics courses managed as independent design experiences. Current projects are thematicallygrouped into two areas: (1) efforts that support the realization of a bed sensor suite forautomated tracking of night-time parameters that indicate child well-being (heart rate, respirationrate, core/surface body temperature, movement, bed wetting, ambient parameters, and other datathat in aggregate indicate sleep quality) and (2) stand-alone design projects that address variousfacets of paraeducator (“para”) and child well-being and development (para armguards, parabehavior-counting gloves, self-abusive behavior monitors, gait analysis devices for children withorthoses, textile-based antennas for wearable devices, musical toothbrushes, and surfacecomputer games for child development and social interaction training).These projects, discussed in more detail in the paper, are intended to help paras and cliniciansquantify the health and development of these children, leading to the identification of cleareroutcomes that can be affiliated with the individualized education plan (IEP) managed for eachchild. To efficiently facilitate increases in child situational awareness, engineering students areencouraged to incorporate design mechanisms that will allow appropriate data to be uploaded tothe Heartspring database that already contains these children’s clinical records, IEPs, and dailyprogress and behaviors as recorded on the iPod Touch platforms carried by the paras that workone-on-one with these children throughout the day. Participation rates by engineering students inbroad curricula (i.e., biomedical and otherwise) imply that students in any area of engineeringappreciate the opportunity to engage in a project with clear and immediate societal benefit.

Warren, S., & Prakash, P., & Brokesh, E., & Singleton, G. W., & Fowler, K. (2014, June), Design Projects to Quantify the Health and Development of Autistic Children Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20265

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