Design Projects That Serve Veterans with Disabilities: A Promising Practice in Teaching How to Design Assistive Technology
At North Dakota State University, engineering students design assistive technologies for veterans with disabilities. Students’ projects must be cost-effective, have a long lifespan, be robust, and be technologically superior to existing options.
Students enroll in a three-semester sequence of courses. The first semester focuses on the ideology of building accessible designs. The second semester focuses on the project itself, including design stages, as well as creating a plan for the client and ordering parts. The third semester focuses on further development, prototyping, feasibility analysis, testing with the client, and long term plans.
After the course is complete, students often continue to work on the technology that they have developed. There have been seven patents awarded to technology developed through these projects, and two start-up companies have formed—Myriad Devices and Packet Digital. Project examples include a device that turns sign language into text and a voice-controlled door opener and vending machine.
The course at North Dakota State University is a promising practice in teaching about assistive technology as it draws students into the real world of applications for their engineering skills.
To find additional information on integrating accessibility into engineering courses consult the Knowledge Base articles:
- How can you introduce accessibility topics in engineering courses?
- How does designing for users with and without disabilities shape student design thinking? and
- How might teaching about universal design help to diversify the engineering student body?
For more information on promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in engineering education in order to increase and diversify the engineering workforce, visit AccessEngineering.