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Interdisciplinary Miniprojects With Engineering And Occupational Therapy Students

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.256.1 - 2.256.6



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Henry G. Ansell

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1275

Interdisciplinary Miniprojects with Engineering and Occupational Therapy Students

Henry G. Ansell Penn State Berks Campus

Introduction Before the spring 1995 semester at Penn State Berks Campus, the coordinator of the occupational therapy program asked this instructor if engineering students might help her students design therapeutic devices.

The occupational therapy program at the Berks Campus leads to an associate degree and prepares students to become licensed occupational therapy assistants. A requirement of a course called Activity Analysis: Therapeutic Devices is that occupational therapy students design and construct a therapeutic device. This course is given in the second semester of the four-semester program.

In the spring 1995 semester this writer taught a one-credit introductory electrical engineering laboratory course, called Electrical Engineering Laboratory, given concurrently with an introductory electrical circuits course. No design project was required. These two courses were normally taken in the fourth semester of a student’s electrical engineering program.

It was apparent that encouraging cooperation between the occupational therapy and engineering students would enrich the engineering lab course by inserting a bit of design project experience, as well as providing an unusual opportunity for practicing teamwork. This author encouraged his engineering students to help the occupational therapy students in their projects by offering extra credit for participating engineering students.

Summary of Interdisciplinary Miniprojects In the spring 1995 semester four interdisciplinary student partnerships were attempted and two materialized. Each team included one engineering student and one occupational therapy student. One project was a device requiring the patient to perform a task needing concentration and dexterity. This project used a digital circuit. The other was a device to teach cause and effect to developmentally retarded children, and used lights and switches. At the end of the semester, the participating engineering students gave a short presentation to their classmates.

Five joint projects were completed in the spring 1996 semester. These were: (1) a “pinch-tree” requiring the patient to perform a task, with feedback to the patient supplied electronically (digitally) to give praise on completion of the task; (2) a device attached to the patient’s foot, to passively exercise it with remote control; (3) a device for exercising, using muscles of the arms; (4) a special switch, made by a pair of students, to be used to switch on a dancing-pig toy for a child; and (5) a device to be attached to a bathtub, to sense when the water has reached a certain level and sound an alarm. At the end of the semester, participating engineering students gave a presentation to faculty from various disciplines.

Ansell, H. G. (1997, June), Interdisciplinary Miniprojects With Engineering And Occupational Therapy Students Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6643

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