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An Innovative Approach to Design Education Across the Academic Pipeline: Technology Innovations for People With Disabilities

[+] Author Affiliations
Mary Goldberg, Jon Pearlman, Mahender Mandala

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Paper No. DETC2013-12315, pp. V001T04A007; 12 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 15th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 10th International Conference on Design Education; 7th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5584-3
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


This paper describes the model used by the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to teach the fundamentals of design using the development of assistive technology as the design objective. Our program, Technology Innovations for People with Disabilities (TIPeD), creates an ecosystem around design through the conceptualization, development, and commercialization of products. Through two classes, a fabrication lab (FabLab), and programs for both traditional (undergraduate and graduate students) and non-traditional (teachers and veterans) trainees, we facilitate experiential learning activities to convey design and product innovation principles. Undergraduate and graduate students progress through formal learning activities to be able to serve as mentors for our non-traditional trainees who are preparing for one of two pathways. Military veterans in our Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering (ELeVATE) program use our design and product innovation activities as a mechanism to get excited about and prepare for a transition in to formal education in engineering and technology. Teachers in our Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program use our activities as a mechanism to learn about engineering and design to create high school science and math curricular units to excite their students about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Though the purpose of this paper is to present and describe this program model, we chose to include both formative and summative evaluation procedures, in addition to preliminary results, to help demonstrate our efforts for continuous improvement of the program.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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