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2022 Student Design Challenge

The RESNA Student Design Challenge (SDC) is an annual competition that showcases creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities function more independently. Student teams represent a wide variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering; computer information science; architecture; and physical and occupational therapy. Entries are judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities. 

2022 Winners

1st Place
$1,000 Cash Prize 
(sponsored by the Joey Wallace Educational Fund)

Shelbytron: An interactive robot to make pediatric physical therapy more fun​
Lead Author:  Joshua Phelps
Additional Authors:  Joshua Phelps, Benjamin Phelps 
University:  Brown University

From left to right: Joshua Phelps, Shelbytron, Benjamin Phelps

Abstract: Physical therapy can be hard work, so the goal of this project was to make it more fun for children. A robot, shaped like a dog sitting in a wheelchair, was built and programmed to encourage children to learn to walk. The robot can drive autonomously down a hallway, stopping frequently to turn and wait for a child to catch up before proceeding. The robot entertains children with rainbow-colored flashing lights, (bad) jokes, encouraging phrases, and a repertoire of over 100 songs. All of these functions are also controllable with a remote. Children and their caretakers have expressed their delight with the robot. Moreover, families and physical therapists report that children walk farther with the robot than they would otherwise.


2nd Place
$700 Cash Prize

Marco for Marco
Lead Author: Giovanna Ibarra 
Additional Authors: Giovanna Ibarra, Gustavo Shepard, Katya Corona, Homer Rodriguez
University: Universidad Anáhuac Norte

Team members. The first on the right is the student Homer Rodriguez, on his left Gustavo Shepard. On the far left is the student Katya Corona and on her right Giovanna Ibarra.

Abstract: The problem being assessed is designing a device that allows a visually impaired high school teacher to give classes to his students. The solution consists of a tactile tablet with a laser-cutted acrylic case with interchangeable templates that allow the user to write in a delimited area and make various diagrams. By using a tactile tablet for graphic design, the user is able to show his writing and diagrams to his students using the computer and projector in his classroom. We expect that the user is able to teach in a more comfortable way, and in the future, that maybe, more visually impaired teachers adopt this solution to teach.


3rd Place
$300 Cash Prize

Toothbrush Buddy: A toothpaste dispenser for people with motor, cognitive, and/or visual impairments​
Lead Author: Madeline Lee
Additional Authors: Madeline Lee, Meghan Mulloy
University: University of Pittsburgh

162 Team Photo.jpg

Abstract: People with dexterity, cognitive, and/or visual impairments may have difficulty applying the appropriate amount of toothpaste to a toothbrush due to challenges with simultaneously controlling the toothbrush and squeezing the toothpaste. These challenges impact a person’s ability to independently perform necessary hygiene self-care tasks. The Toothbrush Buddy’s final design uses an off-the-shelf dispenser with newly designed 3D printed track and lever attachments, and a feedback mechanism. This device prevents toothpaste spillage, releases consistent amounts of toothpaste, provides feedback indicating toothpaste is on the toothbrush and has high contrast components for users with low vision. This device supports a diverse consumer group including those with physical, cognitive, or sensory impairments, young children and older individuals with hand weakness. Through universal design, the Toothbrush Buddy allows individuals to reach their functional independence in brushing their teeth.