June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1269.1 - 12.1269.6
Senior Design Projects in Assistive Technology: Opportunities for Technology Transfer
A unique partnership was established three years ago between an engineering senior projects program and a group of sailors with disabilities known as Challenged America (CA). Renewable funding was secured for three years from the National Science Foundation for engineering students to design various adaptations for the CA fleet of racing sailboats. These modifications allow the physically challenged individuals to not only safely and independently participate in sailing, but also to compete effectively against able-bodied teams. The designs are initially selected to fill a need for the sailors, but have proven to be useful to a broader range of individuals. One example is a knot-tying device that was developed to assist sailors on the boat, but has wider applicability as a teaching tool. Assistive technology has historically involved the development of custom-designed devices for specific individuals, however an organized design effort such as that provided by the engineering senior projects enables the design of devices that serve a larger population, and provide opportunities for technology transfer. Students learn from their involvement in the disclosure and patenting process which is relatively straightforward for these designs. While eventual commercialization may not yield a substantial profit, the product focus of the development effort benefits both the students and the disabled community.
A longstanding interdisciplinary collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering and Education at San Diego State University led to a unique partnership established three years ago with a group of sailors with disabilities known as Challenged America. These individuals make various adaptations to their fleet of racing sailboats to compete effectively against able-bodied teams. Renewable funding was secured for three years from the National Science Foundation, through a program entitled “Engineering Senior Design Projects for Persons with Disabilities.” The broad goal of this partnership is to develop technology solutions to allow physically challenged individuals to safely and independently participate in various aquatic recreational activities.
Proper design of the human interface is vital to the projects – the students must learn the limitations and capabilities of their clients and tailor their devices’ functionality to match. User comfort and safety are important considerations, since many of the devices will be used during multi-day offshore races. The marine environment also poses some severe design constraints, and students must consider factors including saltwater corrosion, temperature extremes, dynamic loading forces due to motions of the boat, as well as electric power and weight limitations inherent to a racing boat.
May-Newman, K., & Newman, P., & Miyares, U. (2007, June), Senior Design Projects In Assistive Technology: Opportunities For Technology Transfer Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/3068
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