The objective of this project is to create a two-semester joint senior design program on assistive technology for CCNY undergraduate seniors in electrical engineering (EE), computer science (CS), and computer engineering (CpE), providing them with major engineering design opportunities to experience real-world entrepreneurial challenges. The proposal seeks funding for 6 senior design projects per year for a period of 5 years. The proposed senior design program builds on our existing capstone design course structure, but with a new concentration on assistive technology for visually impaired people. It will also fully utilize the opportunities provided by the CCNY Entrepreneurship program. In the first semester of the year-long senior design program, the course instructor will offer general lectures on project management which will introduce Total Design methodology, market analysis, IP issues, entrepreneurship, etc. In parallel, the PIs will offer technical lectures to introduce state-of-the-art of assistive technology and empower students with necessary technical skills to perform design. Under the guidance of the PIs, the students will work in teams in a multidisciplinary environment to analyze the real needs of blind/visually impaired people, propose design concept and custom design assistive devices throughout the year to directly help the blind users. In addition, the student teams are encouraged to attend the seminars offered by CCNY entrepreneurship program and to compete for the Kaylie Prize for Entrepreneurship. The winning teams will receive additional financial support and on-campus housing to work over summers to turn their ideas into successful business start-ups.
Intellectual Merits: Leveraging Prof. Xiao's expertise in robotic navigation and Prof. Zhu's expertise in computer vision and scene understanding, the two PIs have been working on the development of human centric assistive navigation systems for the blind people to achieve independent travel in unfamiliar environments. The senior design program creates a great opportunity for students to work on the latest technology and custom design assistive devices and software tools to aid visually impaired people using multimodal sensing techniques and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) methods. The pieces of work produced in the senior design projects will directly help the blind people, and when put together, will constitute a more sophisticated assistive navigation system which will outperform the existing travel aids in the market. The senior design program provides an ideal platform to involve students from multiple disciplines (EE, CS, CpE) in transformative research to contribute their knowledge and skills learned from their 4-year undergraduate training in circuit design, computer programming and human-computer interaction. This cross-disciplinary design experience on assistive devices will prepare the students to be competent in their engineering careers. The students will be guided by the PIs to exercise Total Design practice in every stages of the design effort: user needs and market analysis, product design specification, design ideas, detail design, prototyping, usability testing, and business planning.
Broader Impact: The research results and assistive device prototypes produced in the senior design projects have great potential for commercialization, which will directly benefit blind/visually impaired people and assist them to access unfamiliar environments. The team will work closely with the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) next door to City College on usability testing. The senior design program on assistive technology inspires innovation and supports the training of the future work force from our traditionally under-represented students at CCNY (1/3 Black, 1/3 Hispanic, many women, as well as disabled students) to meet the critical national need for smart healthcare that promoting the wellbeing for all. The results produced in the senior projects will be disseminated through technical publications, outreach to the visual-aid communities (CCVIP, CBVH, etc.), and design studio wiki pages.