Winter Quarter 2016

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 4:30pm - 5:50pm
Classroom 110 in Thornton Center

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Team and Individual Project Task Summary

Team Project Tasks:

Mid-term Assignment:
  • Review candidate project offerings from the handout or webpage
  • Note interesting projects
  • Form a team of no more than three
    Considerations for Team Formation and Project Selection:
    • Project preference - All team members should have a desire to work on the same project.
    • Undergraduate / graduate student - It would be best if all team members were either undergraduate or graduate students as this makes it easier to continue projects into the Spring Quarter.
    • Desire to continue project work into Spring Quarter - Ideally, all team members should commit to continue their project effort into the Spring Quarter.
    • Team's engineering skill set - Match the team's expertise with the needs of the project, including shop / lab experience and fabrication ability.
    • Team members' course load - All team members should be able to devote sufficient time to the project.
    • Personality - There should be a compatible mix of personalities on the team.
    • Friends and team members - A good friend does not necessarily make a good team mate.
  • Consider interesting projects as a team
  • Decide on a team project - inform instructor of selection
  • Contact the individual who suggested the project
  • Acquire information on underlying problem and need
  • Investigate project needs with an individual with a disability, caregivers, family members, health-care professionals
  • Evaluate the needs to further define and specify the project parameters
  • Gather relevant background information for the project, including any prior design approaches and existing commercial products
  • Determine the magnitude of the problem/need and identify all the populations who may benefit from an improved solution.
  • Brainstorm, evaluate, and select a design concept
  • Provide a concise and convincing statement of how your project might address the need / problem. Outline general design concepts and new technology that might be brought to bear on it.
  • Begin prototyping solutions starting with sketches, CAD models, and low resolution 3D physical models. Meet regularly with the user to discuss the merits of your developing design - what looks promising and what requires further thought. Refine your prototypes as needed.
  • Present your team's progress in class
  • Submit a mid-term report
End-of-term Assignment:
  • Prototype, fabricate, test, assess the result - iterate the process
  • Present team’s design - giving background, criteria, initial concepts from brainstorming, selected design candidate, and any prototyping, fabrication, and testing
  • Submit an end-of-term final report and Individual Reflection on the project experience
  • Meet and communicate with instructor on project progress
  • Attend lectures as required

Individual Project Tasks:

  • Attend at least 10 lectures, including the first lecture, Introduction to Assistive Technology.
  • Meet with the course instructor to agree on an assistive technology project and to report progress during the quarter.
  • Interview an individual with a disability or older adult, consisting of a overview of the individual's life, challenges being faced, successes achieved, desires for the future.
  • Review of assistive technology employed, their usefullness and limitations, problems experienced, and similar products on the market.
  • Focus on one of these activities that benefits the interviewed older adult or individual with a disability:
    • Research an assistive technology topic - report on new products and research under development that have the potential to benefit the interviewed older adult or person with a disability.
    • Pursue a "paper design" of an assistive technology device - develop a CAD design or a "low resolution" physical device built from foam-core or other prototyping material.
    • Create a work of art - create an original poem, song, skit, painting, or video. (This option would be of particular interest to students who have skills and expertise other than engineering.)
    • Engage in an aftermarket aesthetic design - select an existing assistive product that could benefit from a better appearance, contact the manufacturer, and work with a user of the device to improve its aesthetic appeal.
    • Engage in an aftermarket functionality / usability design - select an existing assistive product that could benefit from a better functionality or usability, contact the manufacturer, and work with a user of the device to improve its functionality or usability.
  • Give a final presentation of about 15 minutes in length to be scheduled outside of class time during the week of March 2nd that includes PowerPoint slides, photographs, and short videos as described here.
  • Submit a final report that documents the entire quarter's effort and addresses the elements described here. Individual final reports are due Monday, March 16th.
  • Submit an Individual Reflection as described here. Individual reflections are due Monday, March 18th.

Pre-lecture Class Discussions:

  • Arrive on-time
  • Be attentive
  • Absorb / understand / analyze
  • Formulate opinions
  • Contribute to discussion

Guest Lectures:

  • Be attentive
  • Absorb / understand / analyze
  • Ask questions
  • Fill out Class Session Evaluation Forms


  • Submit Weekly Individual Reports or meet individually or as a team with instructor
  • Present mid-term team progress and submit a report
  • Present end-of-term team presentation and submit a report
  • Submit end-of-term Individual Reflection
  • Participate in class discussions and lecture questions

Updated 09/18/2015

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