Simon P. Levine, PhD
Born: February 7, 1952 - Los Angeles, CA
Entry into the AT field: September, 1974
How I got into the field
I started doing graduate research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, based on an offer from a professor from whom I was taking a course.
My degrees include, MA Mathematics, MS Biomedical Engineering, PhD Biomedical Engineering.
Important event(s) that influenced my early decision to get into the assistive technology field
James Cockrell directed a research and ad hoc clinical program in rehabilitation engineering in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and was very open to my participation.
Why I chose the AT field
I was drawn by the opportunity to work with people and help them to effectively use technology in areas of need.
My inspiration and mentor
Jim Cockrell was the person who introduced me to this field and strongly encouraged my participation. He was a good engineer with strong desire and motivation to help people make engineering and assistive technologies work for them.
Why the field is important to me and the central focus of my work
It has been an ideal field for me that has let me combine engineering research, clinical/assistive technology service, and teaching.
My goal has been to run an "academically" balanced program that provides high quality clinical/assistive technology services, innovative research based on realistic observed need, and encouragement for students to train and participate in both service delivery and research.
My memorable successes and greatest contributions to the field
My most memorable success has been to have the honor to work in this field. I have received a great deal of satisfaction from establishing and maintaining a viable and effective service delivery program, working with my very capable staff and students, and having the opportunity to explore innovate solutions to barriers faced by people with a variety of disabilities.
I consider my greatest contributions to be he people that have trained in our program who are now so actively contributing to our field both in service delivery and research. Also, I feel good about having started along a couple of new research directions that have successfully lead to expanding research efforts in these areas.
My most memorable failures
I have certainly had my share of things that didn't go as planned and didn't produce the kind of outcomes we expected. However, I have never really considered anything I have done in this field to be a failure as all of my activities have taught me something important.
Significant changes and advances in the field since I first entered it
There are too many to list but near the top must be included the vast expansion of commercial assistive technology that has become available, the maturation of training programs, the innovations produced through research, the certification process RESNA developed.
The kinds of advances listed above have served to allow us to be more effective in service delivery and to produce continuing advancement in research.
On the future of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology
The future for both service delivery and research are bright based on our continuing advancement in the development of knowledge and expertise in these areas. The course of our future, however, is far from barrier free given the numerous challenges we face from social, economic, and political realities.
My role within RESNA and what it gave back to me
I have tried to focus my efforts in RESNA towards specific activities that have hopefully led to meaningful positive changes for our organization and the field in general.
On the future of RESNA
The future for RESNA has been and will probably continue to be somewhat of a changing target. I think RESNA will have to continue to work hard to remain as a leader and unifier in this field. However, it is a role that needs to be filled by RESNA if we are to maintain rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology as a valuable and important field of endeavor.
My suggestions for those just entering the field
There is tremendous opportunity for career satisfaction in our field and to help others. Come join us, work hard, and enjoy the opportunities and benefits.