Winter Quarter 2015

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 4:15pm - 5:30pm
Classroom 110 in Thornton Center

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Assignment for One Credit Letter Grade Option


This one credit letter grade option is offered to students whose schedule does not permit working on a team-based project in ENGR110/210, but who wish to receive a letter grade.

For your assignment you are asked to interview an individual with a disability or an older adult, choose and pursue a specific project activity, present your work, submit a final comprehensive final project report that encompasses your efforts for the entire quarter, and reflect on your experiences.


Required Course and Individual Project Activities

The required course and project activities for students working on an individual project for one credit and a letter grade are:

  1. Participate fully in the class including attending lectures as required, listening actively, posing questions to the guest speakers and the course instructor, engaging in class discussions, verbalizing thoughts and analyses, reading and responding to emails from the course instructor, and communicating project progress.

  2. Attend at least 10 lectures, including the first lecture, Introduction to Assistive Technology.

  3. Meet with the course instructor during the second week of classes to discuss and agree upon an assistive technology project and to report progress during the quarter.

  4. Interview an individual with a disability or older adult, consisting of an overview of the individual's life, challenges being faced, successes achieved, desires for the future.

  5. Review of assistive technology used, their usefulness and limitations, problems experienced, and similar products on the market.

  6. Focus on one of these activities that relates to or would potentially benefit the interviewed older adult or individual with a disability:

    1. Research an assistive technology topic - report on new products and research under development.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

  7. 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 below.

  8. Submit a final report that documents the entire quarter's effort and addresses the elements described below. Individual final reports are due Monday, March 16th.

  9. Submit an Individual Reflection as described below. Individual reflections are due Monday, March 17th.


Individual Project Presentation
Week of March 2nd

Schedule a presentation time (the presentation will take place during the week of March 3rd) with the course instructor. Describe your project work in a 15-minute presentation that may employ PowerPoint slides, photographs, and short videos. Other students and community members may be in attendance. The presentation should include the following elements:

  1. Personal introduction
  2. One sentence project description
  3. Overview of the interview with the older adult or individual with a disability
  4. Review of assistive technology employed
  5. Choice of and rationale for the selected project activity benefitting the interviewee:
    • assistive technology topic
    • paper design
    • work of art
    • aftermarket aesthetic design / functionality / usability design
  6. Discussion of project activity process: background research, alternatives considered, selected approach, rationale for choice, prototypes made, and final design
  7. Project visualizations: photographs, videos, sketches, drawings, models, prototypes
  8. Activity demonstration (as appropriate, depending on project choice)
  9. Future work and challenges for continuing the project, including technical feasibility, engineering difficulty, estimated cost of a commercial product, and market potential (as appropriate, depending on project choice)

You will be judged on the overall quality of the presentation, the effectiveness of your design process, and your design solution using the following metrics:

  • Delivery: enthusiasm, confidence, energy, volume
  • Process: problem identification, research, brainstorming, design selection, fabrication, testing, and evaluation
  • Presentation: clarity, organization, and completeness of the information presented
  • Design: creativity, originality, functionality of the design as well as the extent to which it meets the user's needs

Other presentation considerations and suggestions:

  • Anticipate questions from those in attendance.
  • There may be people from industry attending the presentation, so please dress professionally (no jeans, t-shirts, or flip-flops).
  • Most important - practice your presentation to maximize the quality of its content, clarity, conciseness, completeness, understanding of your design decisions, creativity, pacing, and timing.

Individual Project Report
Due Monday - March 16th at 5pm

  1. Your report should document all your project efforts using the format below and be at least 10 pages in length.

  2. Suggested format for your project report:

    • Cover page - include course name & year, project title, name, and your photo
    • Abstract - one paragraph summary of objectives, approach taken, and results of the project
    • Introduction - problem to be addressed, problem background
    • Objectives - project goals and rationale
    • Design criteria - project background research, interviews with project suggestors and potential users, project specifications
    • Methods - what did you do and why - include your evolution of ideas, alternatives considered, selected approach, prototyping, model building, preliminary testing, calculations, analysis of final design
    • Results - discuss specifics of your design solution such as features, benefits, aesthetics, cost, safety, reliability, usability, test results, feedback from users, etc.
    • Discussion - include challenges and suggestions to further develop and refine the project
    • Next steps - assuming this project will be pursued in ME113 or as directed study, identify future challenges and include a timetable of major tasks to fabricate and test a functional prototype.
    • Additional - optionally address issues relating to technical feasibility, safety considerations, potential manufacturing, cost of materials, mass production, marketing, advertising, distribution, sales, licensing,
    • Images - add photographs, drawings, and sketches documenting your design process and activities throughout the document
    • References - bibliographic and web citations
    • Acknowledgements - cite individuals / facilities who / that helped you
    • Appendices - detailed calculations, testing notes, relevant vendor information, etc. that are referenced in the main body of the report

  3. Submit your report in Word or PDF format by email in Word or PDF format. (The course instructor can print your final version on a high quality color laser printer if you desire a printed copy.)


Individual Reflection
Due Monday - March 16th at 5pm

Reflect on your class and project experiences. Provide a discussion (two pages minimum) of your design process, what you learned, and what was most valuable to you individually. Here are some items to consider and address:

  1. Review Learning through Structured Reflection article.

  2. You have spent the past quarter hearing from different professionals and users, interviewing community members, brainstorming with your instructor, doing background research, looking at prior art, fabricating and testing a prototype device, etc. Please comment on the relative value of the different parts of this process toward your design.

  3. How did the different interactions in the class (with users, community members, speakers, professionals, etc.) contribute to the results of your design? Was any particular interaction especially rewarding or helpful? Why?

  4. If you were to go through this process again, what would you do differently? Was there support from the teaching staff or course content that was helpful or that you felt was missing? What advice would you give to future students?

  5. Additional questions to be considered for your reflection can be found here.

  6. Submit your report by email.



Final Report
Final Presentation
Individual Reflection
Participation *
* Participation includes meeting with instructor, actively listening, posing questions to the guest speakers and the course instructor, engaging in class discussions, verbalizing thoughts and analyses, and submitting Weekly Individual Reports.

Updated 01/17/2015

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