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Personal Experiences Providing Engineering Education To A Quadriplegic Engineering Student

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.926.1 - 8.926.9

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Paper Authors

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William Haering

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

Session 2793

Personal Experiences Providing Engineering Education to a Quadriplegic Engineering Student

William Haering The Pennsylvania State University – DuBois Campus


The author relates his experiences teaching and advising a quadriplegic baccalaureate engineering student. The author concludes that available time and the instructor’s full appreciation of the processes by which the quadriplegic student must accomplish tasks are essential to successfully providing that student an engineering education. Furthermore, the author believes that the entire process could be improved, with changes in how academic institutions, the federal government, and other third party organizations operate and provide support to such students. Instructors teaching engineering courses with a quadriplegic student must be aware of the unique circumstances faced by such a student. While the quadriplegic student must be held to the same academic standards as other students, the process by which the student performs his or her work and is evaluated must allow for the student's unique circumstances. The author has observed it requires a quadriplegic student two to three times longer to accomplish most technically-oriented tasks than a student who is not quadriplegic. This means that a quadriplegic student can not be expected to successfully take the same number of credits in technically-oriented courses as other students. Consequently, the author believes financial aid decisions should consider this fact. Additional considerations include textbook choices, where selection of an electronically available text can have a tremendous impact on the quadriplegic student and the teaching institution’s support structure, especially in regard to the time needed to convert paper texts into an electronic format. Finally, there is a tremendous need to develop engineering education oriented software which a quadriplegic student could easily use. This software would significantly decrease the time required for such students to accomplish technically-oriented tasks.

I. Background Information

While an accurate description of the number of quadriplegic baccalaureate engineering students could not be found, the number of such students in colleges and universities in the United States is small. This assertion is based upon the following. First, as far as was known in 2000, the student discussed in this paper was the first quadriplegic baccalaureate engineering student in the College of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. This is significant because The Pennsylvania State University perennially ranks in the top three engineering schools based on the number of undergraduate engineering degrees conferred. Furthermore, by using statistical data from several different sources, provided in Table 1, the number of quadriplegic baccalaureate engineering students that are first-time freshman can be roughly estimated.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Haering, W. (2003, June), Personal Experiences Providing Engineering Education To A Quadriplegic Engineering Student Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015