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ProCEED Receives da Vinci Award

ProCEED (Program for Community Engagement in Engineering Design) has received a 2003 da Vinci Award ® from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter (NMSS), and The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD). The organization was recognized at the annual Dinner with da Vinci ® on September 19 at Ford Field in Detroit.

The da Vinci Awards ® recognize individuals, organizations and corporations in the engineering, construction and technical realms whose design innovations have exceeded any legally mandated requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to further empower all people. ProCEED was awarded in the area of assistive technology-research.

proceed,ProCEED received a 2003 da Vinci Award

In the POHI classroom, students benefit from adaptive equipment such as Alpha Smarts (word processor), Braillewriter, adjustable tables, and a television monitor that enlarges print for students with low vision.

"But those students who were in a general education classroom were having to sit with an aide at a desk and have the aide write and hold things for them, because the desk was not the correct height," she said. The adjustable table they purchased elsewhere had some design flaws. "They had bolts under them to brace them, but when an electrical wheelchair pulled up the students' knees caught on the bolts, hurting them. The bolts also went flying off every time something hit them."

When she learned about ProCEED, Carroll said she immediately thought of several projects that would benefit the students, including the desk.

"Working with ProCEED was a very positive experience," Carroll said, citing the students' professionalism. "They catered to our needs and made a perfect product."

In the end, the desk design was a win-win situation for students on both sides of the project: ProCEED students learned about the challenges of designing for people with special needs, while the POHI students became more independent as a result of having the appropriate equipment available to them.

Among the many projects developed over the years by ProCEED are

* a wheelchair designed to adapt as the child grows (sponsored by Ken Ludwig of IOE and the Flounders)
* a transfer device to allow an individual help another person from a wheelchair into bed. Described by ProCEED member Jonathan Parrott as a "North Campus-wide collaboration," this project was suggested by an ME student whose roommate was wheelchair-bound.
* an automatic insulin dosing machine for diabetics who often have vision problems, including a keypad for entering the desired dosage of insulin.
* a variable-height garden for people of all ages, some who cannot bend down completely to work at ground-level.
* a mobile, temporary ramp, which can be quickly installed when someone becomes immobile and their home is not initially accessible.
* an inexpensive retrofit to motorize a manual wheelchair.

Fall 2003 ProCEED projects look at the design of an adjustable arm to hold a flat-panel computer monitor (funded by the U-M Adaptive Technology Computing Site) and a redesigned Braille display (funded by U-M School of Social Work Professor Larry Gant).

"These projects must be inexpensive in part because our customers are often underfinanced," Schultz said. "ProCEED generally works for nonprofit organizations, but we would consider projects for a for-profit enterprise, as long as the project has a not-for-profit motive."

Brei added, "An endowment is what we really need for this program. It would enable us to partner our students with a larger group of people from the community with real needs to form an educational experience for all."

For more information about ProCEED, visit the organization's web site or send e-mail to proceed@umich.edu.

See also ProCEED

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