RESNA 2023 Student Design Challenge Finalists Announced


RESNA 2023 Student Design Challenge Finalists Announced

Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023
Category: General

The Student Design Challenge (SDC) is back again for 2023! Serving as an annual competition held in conjunction with the Annual Conference, SDC participants represent a wide variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering; computer information science; architecture; and physical and occupational therapy, undergraduate and masters level student teams showcase creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities. Entries are judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities.

This year brought submissions from across the globe, including: Carneige Mellon University, Stanford, The University of Pittsburgh, the University of Florida, Tufts University, Duquesne University, B V Raju Institute of Technology, Baldwin Wallace University, Northwestern University, Bvrit Hyderabad College of Engineering for Women, Queen's University, and Duke. Submissions are judged by a committee of Assistive Technology experts who have selected five finalists along with the receipient of the RERC on AAC award. SDC finalists receive a complimentary one-year RESNA student membership, conference registration for up to two team members, and live presentation opportunities at the Annual Conference taking place July 24 - 26 in New Orleans, LA. The top 3 finalists will be chosen by the judges panel and will be announced at the Annual Conference, with cash prizes totaling $2,000.

Please join RESNA in congratulating the 2023 SDC finalists and the recipient of the RERC on AAC award!

2023 Student Design Challenge Finalists:

DUG: A communication device to prevent people from distracting service dogs
Beste Aydin, Steven Opferman, Omar Ramos Escoto, and Breanna Sandoval, Stanford

Individuals with service dogs are frequently interrupted by people who want to get their “dog fix”. At best, this experience is an annoyance; at worst, the service dog can be so distracted that they are unable to focus on their handler, potentially jeopardizing the safety of the service dog’s human partner. To understand the magnitude of this issue, our team worked closely with Abby and her service dog Nathan. Our design is a Bluetooth speaker that can be flexibly attached along with a custom-built remote control that triggers pre-recorded audio messages. These audio messages inform people not to distract the service dog using a variety of tones and lengths, which the user can choose from. This helps service dog owners to not have to repeat themselves when preventing people from interacting with their companions. This is specifically helpful for service dog owners who have problems communicating with others due to differences in speech or discomfort in social situations.

The Dyno: Dynamic Rear Anti-Tip Device
Kayden Gill, University of Pittsburgh

Acquisition of the wheelie skill is critical for independent wheeled mobility allowing wheelchair users to navigate obstacles, and perform weight shifts. However, the wheelie is far from a universally shared skill with only 59.9% of long term wheelchair users being able to hold one for 30s. Even skilled users are at an risk of injury from backwards falls. The current approach to minimize risk are anti-tippers, these however, inhibit skill acquisition by limiting wheelies, leading to abandonment. Rigid wheelchair users need a means to perform a safe functional wheelie. The Dyno, a Dynamic Rear Anti-tip Devices (D-RAD) aims to fill the void between safety and function by moving with the wheelie until a stopper is hit. It serves as a safety net, and provides the support needed for more advance skill acquisition, such as wheelies down slopes, and opens the skill to users with limited trunk control who may otherwise be unable to perform a wheelie.

FlexiPull Drawer Scoop: A flexible drawer handle to improve bathroom accessibility
Kacey Roehrich, University of Pittsburgh

The bathroom is the smallest room in most homes and fixtures further reduce the amount of maneuverable space. Bumping into metal drawer handles is unsafe for individuals and damaging to their wheelchairs. This project aims to create a drawer handle for individuals who use a wheelchair and have limited hand function that does not create an unsafe obstacle so they can efficiently open drawers and safely maneuver in small rooms. The FlexiPull Drawer Scoop is a 3D-printed TPU handle that balances flexibility and rigidity. Increasing accessibility to bathroom drawers for individuals with limited hand function increases their independence and alleviates frustration during tasks essential to personal care. The FlexiPull Drawer Scoop enables individuals to freely move around the bathroom and be less mindful of their clearances with the drawers. When FlexiPull Drawer Scoops get bumped into, they move out of the way without causing any damage, then spring back into place and are ready for use.

Grip-it 2 Click-it
Daniel Rusnak and Brian Martin, University of Pittsburgh

Many individuals who have difficulties buckling a seatbelt either struggle to get buckled-in or choose not to wear a seatbelt. Individuals with limited hand functions need a better way to pull the seatbelt across their body, align the buckle tongue to the buckle receiver, push the seat belt buckle into the receiver, and finally release it independently. Grip-it 2 Click-it looked to make the seat-belting process more accessible for individuals like our client and others with a similar condition. A T-handle was added to the buckle side of the seat belt to enable the ability to grasp the belt and pull it across the body, and a pull-up T-handle on a fulcrum was added to the receiver side to aid the ease of unbuckling for those without triceps strength. This project aimed to enable individuals with limited hand functions a better way to use a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt properly is vital to an individual’s safety in a car accident.

Just Roll On It
Brittany Platt, University of Pittsburgh

An Individual in a wheelchair with limited hand mobility needs to have a trash can that will open on the ground to help assist in keeping their house clean. The final design incorporated feed back from the original design through the validation testing and final presentation to the client and class. The final product includes a 16-guage pedal with side ramps attached using 3-1/2 inch hinges welded to the main and side ramps. The side ramps now have rounded edges, Skid Guard Tread, and rubber edging. The intent is to create a reliable trash can ramp that will allow a client using a wheelchair to be able to independently place items in the trash without damaging the trashcan. It is important that the client be able to maintain the cleanliness of his house in an independent manner. It is also important that the trash can is damaged in the process as this is not cost effective. This device has universal practical application to all pedal operated trash cans.

2023 Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center (RERC) on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Award Winner:

The RERC on AAC, based at Penn State, is a collaborative center committed to advancing knowledge and producing innovative engineering solutions in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The RERC’s research and development program emphasizes strong tech transfer and employs a comprehensive dissemination plan to improve outcomes for children and adults with both developmental and acquired disabilities across the life span. The center is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90REGE0014). RESNA thanks the RERC on AAC for their support of the Student Design Challenge.

2023 RERC on AAC Award Winner: TOASTI: Tongue-Operated Assistive Technology
Justin Lam, Sophia Shan, John McNamee, Arnav Bhat, and Mohamed Mohamed, Carnegie Mellon University

Accessibility to medical services is a concern to those with quadriplegia. In community-based living settings where in-person monitoring may be infrequent, individuals with paralysis may benefit from an active method of contacting and receiving help. However, communication with emergency services can be challenging, as it requires many elements of fine motor control and communication skills. Our team of engineering students developed a tongue-operated assistive instrument that focused on providing both a way of signaling for help and a binary system to enable users to respond to emergency responders or caregivers. Suggestions for improvement were implemented after consulting peer experts in mental health and disability advocacy and receiving feedback from professors in the field of rehabilitative technologies. The total cost of materials is less than $100, and the final design can offer similar functionality to existing alternative communication and medical life alert devices.

Find out more information on past SDC winners and finalists!

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