9704215 Eberhardt This grant will support senior design projects to aid persons with disabilities, for Mechanical Engineering (ME) students, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Projects are geared toward providing alternative, low cost, custom designed devices and software that will directly aid specific disabled individuals or groups of individuals. They include devices to assist in environmental control, communication augmentation, motorized devices for lifting or grabbing and alarm systems which combine visual and auditory warnings, just to name a few. Project ideas have been provided by United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS). In addition, a cross-UAB-campus collaboration has been established including Occupational Therapy, Spain Rehabilitation, Orthopedic Surgery and the Injury Control and Research Center, who have provided project ideas which combine depth in both engineering and life sciences. A three-member advisement committee will ensure adequate student supervision and quality development of the project device. This committee will include the PI, one ME faculty with expertise in the project area, and a collaborating investieator from UCP, ADRS or UAB. The fact that the designs will be constructed, tested and used by the disabled individuals will provide meaningful design experience for the engineering student while serving the disabled community. This form of highly visible, funded senior design projects will serve as an exceptional recruiting tool to attract better students to the UAB School of Engineering. It will further strengthen the collaborative link between Engineering and the UAB Hospital and promote a planned industrial track in Rehabilitation Engineering through the UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering. Links with local industry will improve regional visibility of UAB, will increase cooperation with the local community to the benefit of both, and will increase employment opportunities for graduating ME seniors. These same links will serve to leverage funding at greater levels from industry, government agencies and foundations to support this worthwhile effort. ***

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University of Alabama Birmingham
United States
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