About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1217-1221
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: TEACHING ENGINEERING DESIGN WITH SOCIAL AND GLOBAL IMPACT

C. Armiento, A. Rux, D. Clark, S. Haileselassie

University of Massachusetts Lowell (UNITED STATES)
The senior capstone project is the culmination of an undergraduate engineering education. The capstone experience requires students to apply knowledge acquired during their first three years of study to the design and construction of a device. In addition to technical skills, graduating engineering students must also have an appreciation of economics, ethics, the global nature of the profession, and their potential to benefit society. In this presentation we describe a unique approach to the engineering capstone process that combines many of these educational goals with an opportunity for a service learning experience.

Assistive Technology is the application of engineering principles and technologies to benefit physically or mentally disabled individuals. The University of Massachusetts Lowell requires electrical and computer engineering seniors to develop a custom-engineered device to aid a disabled person in their day-to-day activities. The device may serve the client by improving their ability to communicate, enhancing their mobility, providing an interface to a computer, or enabling employment. Examples of projects include infrared alarms for the blind (e.g., built into a shoe), voice-controlled computers for quadriplegics and ALS patients, and a head-mounted wheelchair steering control.

From an educational perspective, our capstone approach requires seniors to develop practical design skills as well as the “soft skills” of time and project management. These soft skills are naturally developed through the need to understand client needs as well as the requirement to carry out their design and produce their “product” on time and on budget. On a human level, students grow to understand the challenges faced by the disabled population and the societal imperative to provide assistance. Students discover that they have talents that can benefit society.

The national and international visibility of our program has been increasing steadily over the last few years. We have taken on projects for clients beyond the borders of the United States. Furthermore, we have recently exported the Assistive Technology philosophy to two universities in India where there is significant need to assist the disabled community. This interaction has occurred by an exchange of faculty as well as the use of American-Indian student teams to develop solutions for disabled clients in India.

This presentation will describe the organization of our two course capstone sequence and the skills (technical and nontechnical) that are emphasized. Examples of projects that have been delivered will also be covered as well as our recent efforts to expand the program internationally.
@InProceedings{ARMIENTO2010ASS,
author = {Armiento, C. and Rux, A. and Clark, D. and Haileselassie, S.},
title = {ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: TEACHING ENGINEERING DESIGN WITH SOCIAL AND GLOBAL IMPACT},
series = {4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-5538-9},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {8-10 March, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {1217-1221}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Armiento AU - A. Rux AU - D. Clark AU - S. Haileselassie
TI - ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: TEACHING ENGINEERING DESIGN WITH SOCIAL AND GLOBAL IMPACT
SN - 978-84-613-5538-9/2340-1079
PY - 2010
Y1 - 8-10 March, 2010
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2010 Proceedings
SP - 1217
EP - 1221
ER -
C. Armiento, A. Rux, D. Clark, S. Haileselassie (2010) ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: TEACHING ENGINEERING DESIGN WITH SOCIAL AND GLOBAL IMPACT, INTED2010 Proceedings, pp. 1217-1221.
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