AccessComputing Team Member Profile: Lauren (Opportunities! AccessComputing Fall 2015)

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This summer I worked on a research project sponsored through the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program again, only this time I traveled to Boulder, Colorado and lived there for over two months. That part was really special, because I have never lived away from home for a long period of time. It was important for me to see how well I could manage it if the right resources were available.

I worked on a project involving wearable assistive technology that uses Sparkfun and Adafruit microcontrollers with onboard Wi-Fi, Arduino programming, and mobile development with Xamarin forms. We produced a button device that is used with smart phones as an assistive augmentative communication tool. It is small, portable, and only costs about $15 to make. Further work on this project is going to be implemented, and I will be listed as an author on a future paper.

I was able to participate in this internship after I met Professor Shaun Kane, who works at the University of Colorado Boulder and is also a member of AccessComputing, while I was attending the Tapia Conference this year. I started out the internship reading research papers to learn about what was already out there. This was much harder than I anticipated; there are so many resources to look through. After we decided on the goal of the project, we started working with the Sparkfun and Adafruit board programming, which I had no prior experience with. These programs had very little documentation, which was pretty frustrating at times. I eventually overcame that obstacle and began developing the cross-platform mobile application that was going to be used to program the board to user specifications. Before the internship ended, we were able to run a few light usability tests and talk to a physical therapist about potential applications or studies. I was also able to learn more information about graduate school and I’m now thinking that I want to try and pursue a PhD, so I’m planning on looking into taking the GRE soon.

I was back home for about a week before I attended another computing event, CMD-IT’s Student Professional Development Workshop that was held in Austin, Texas. There I worked on improving my resume (which it definitely needed) and I met a ton of cool people there, many of whom I’m still in contact with. We want to try and put on a workshop at the next Tapia Conference about effective leadership. Earlier in the summer I applied and was awarded a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Conference this year! I’ve kept in contact with some people in Colorado and from Tapia and the CMD-IT Workshop, and hope to connect with them at Grace Hopper. That’s all of the computing I did over the summer for the most part. I had a lot of fun and learned a bunch of new things!