\We're out there involved in giving back to the community, providing opportunities for students, and making the world more accessible," said Design Day project sponsor representative Stephen Blosser.
For the past five years the RCPD has sponsored projects through MSU's College of Engineering, and this semester provided yet another opportunity for RCPD to support further advancements in assistive technology.
The College of Engineering Design Day featured energy, creativity, and innovation. Those in attendance experienced a glimpse of how MSU students will shape the future of engineering.
For students participating in capstone design projects, Design Day was the culmination of 4+ years of undergraduate study at MSU. At the event, students presented a total of 33 capstone design projects, representing a collaboration of students and faculty with the support of over 24 industrial sponsors.
Blosser, RCPD Assistive Technology Specialist, led the RCPD contribution on two engineering projects featured at Design Day this semester: The Redesign of the Bases for Beep Baseball and the Portable Audio-Visual Book Reader.
In the past, engineering students worked with the RCPD on projects such as a washing machine and dryer using voice output to improve accessibility; a talking navigational aid for a blind Great Lakes Fisherman; a wearable pocket PC with the ability to interpret data from an exercise bike; a grain volume measurement device for a farmer with a mobility disability; and an improved baseball design for Midland, Michigan Rotary Club and the National Beep Baseball Association.
As a project sponsor representative, Blosser plays an important role in selecting projects for Design Day. "I receive suggestions from students with disabilities at MSU, Centers for Independent Living, and community members with disabilities. I help guide development of those ideas to become a feasible product."
We are also working with community programs, such as the Arnold Center to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It is our goal to have this assistive technology, developed and mass produced by the hands and hearts of persons with disabilities. "said Blosser.
Midland, Michigan Rotary Club called MSU directly to see if engineering students could help with design improvements for the ball and bases.
The Redesign of the Bases for Beep Baseball was taken on by electrical engineers Nathan Gingery, Bryan Thomas, Ki Yong Kwon, and Feng Yu, and computer engineer Samuel Davis. A previous engineering team redesigned the baseball, and their design is in production at the Arnold Center providing employment for people with disabilities. The goal of this semester's beep baseball project was to redesign the bases, making them more audible. "We also reduced the price...it's more affordable and easy to ship, and the bases beep with a wireless control so people won't trip over the bases," said project team member Ki Yong Kwon. The design team also created a remote control that can turn the wireless sound device on and off. The new base design is inflatable and much more affordable. The team succeeded in creating a final base set that is cost effective and safer for the players, using an inflatable design that is easier to ship.
The Portable Audio-Visual Book Reader project was completed by a team of electrical engineers Jason Cooper, Art Hallman, James Yang, F. Okonkwo, and computer engineer Jaeseung Shim. Their task was to create a portable media player that would convert text to speech, and simultaneously highlight words read by a voice synthesizer. "The most challenging part of the project was getting the text and audio synchronized properly. We had to re-work the code," said project team member Jason Cooper. In the end, the team of engineers successfully wrote a software program capable of automatically highlighting words and sentences with synthetic or voice features, making it possible to synchronize both book and audio. Their Portable Audio-Visual Book Reader won the Professors' Choice Award.
"The multi-year partnership between RCPD and the College of Engineering is producing exciting results," said RCPD director Michael Hudson. "We've helped engineers solve real-life challenges, shown students with disabilities the significance of engineering, and initiated exciting new product possibilities."