Project Goals

  • Learn basic electrical and mechanical design techniques.
  • Understand and apply the engineering design process.
  • Understand and apply user-centered design.
  • Complete a design project from start to finish including a working prototype.
  • Have fun and learn lots of new and useful skills.

Project Theme

The main theme for the design project is Assistive Technology. Broadly speaking, Assistive Technology is the application of technological interventions to help people achieve the activities of daily living. In keeping with the goals of this course, we limit our technology interventions to tasks that involve mechatronics and make use of the supplied lab kits.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is commonly defined as any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities (“What is AT” - Assistive Technology Industry Association). However, these technology interventions need not apply exclusively to persons living with disabilities. Assistive technology can be used in a variety of scenarios that can include academic and learning aids, assistive listening devices, computer access, mobility aids, pre-vocational and vocational aids, seating and positioning, and visual aids (“Definition of Assistive Technology” - Georgia Department of Education).

What are Activities of Daily Living?

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are a series of activities that are performed daily and are necessary for living independently. These include tasks in the categories of personal hygiene, dressing, eating, maintaining continence, and transferring/mobility (“Activities & Instrumental Activities of Daily Living - Definitions, Importance and Assessments” - Paying for Senior Care).

Engineering Design for Assistive Technology

The two videos below are from former UW-Stout Rehabilitation Engineer, Meghan Donahue.

Part 1: The engineering design process and its intersection with the design of assistive technology.

Part 2: Specific ideas for identifying needs within assistive technology to help motivate selection of a project.