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05-08-2015

Clarkson University Biomedical Engineering Design Students Demonstrate Assistive Technology Design at CREATE Symposium in Albany

A group of Clarkson University students recently demonstrated their biomedical engineering senior design project during NYSID’s first CREATE Symposium at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y.

Left to right: St. Lawrence NYSARC CEO Daphne Pickert, St. Lawrence NYSARC Sales Representative Tracy Tuttle, NYS Senator Patty Ritchie, Clarkson Students John Rockwood, Madison Lyndaker, Sarah David and Joe Romeo, and Clarkson Professor Charlie Robinson with Clarkson's recycling table.CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive Technology) is an initiative sponsored by NYSID (New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc.) that brings undergraduate and graduate engineers from colleges and universities across New York State together with NYSID community rehabilitation agencies.

The Clarkson students had the opportunity to put their knowledge to use in the context of a "real-life" experience with their project to help improve the productivity of workers with disabilities. CREATE also served to educate these students on the employment challenges faced by New Yorkers with disabilities.

REVISED, the Clarkson team’s project, stands for "Recycling as a Viable Industry for Supported Employment of those with Disability." Students worked with St. Lawrence NYSARC’s recycling center in Massena, N.Y., to improve its efficiency by providing more accurate counts of the quantity and classification of redeemable recyclables coming into the center, by enhancing their subsequent sorting process, and by keeping a better estimate of the outflow of counted items from the center.

Students from Clarkson’s Business School also participated in the project by analyzing the flow of the redeemable material through St. Lawrence NYSARC’s current process and by recommending process improvements to the Biomedical Engineering Senior Design group. Their principal recommendation was to separate four types of redeemables at the intake table: plastic water containers, other plastic containers, cans, and glass bottles. The current process has one hole for all recyclables except glass bottles, and required multiple subsequent sorts.

A previous group of Biomedical Engineering Senior Design students built a new, three-hole table with modular parts that they fabricated. This table could be assembled in 10 minutes, and disassembled and packed flat in five minutes.

This semester’s design students worked on the sensing and display electronics and the wiring interconnects for that table, and interfaced all of the counters to a computer -- impressive feats, considering none of the team members were electrical engineers. Commercial sensors and displays were used to allow for ease of future maintenance.

The table displayed at the CREATE Symposium was a working model that tracked and separately displayed the number of water, plastic, cans, and glass bottles returned by a single customer, and another separate daily total for each category. It also calculated and displayed for the customer a running count of the dollar and cent value that they would receive.

There were two takeaways from this project: the design and MBA students worked on an immediately useful real-world problem, and they rapidly became admirers of the exceptional work done at the St. Lawrence NYSARC by those with disabilities in keeping the recycling process flowing smoothly. This entire design process allowed these Clarkson students to see the employment challenges that are faced by this deserving cross-section of our state's workforce.

Clarkson students who participated in the CREATE Symposium were Environmental Health Science junior Madison Lyndaker of Lowville, N.Y.; two chemical and bio-molecular engineering seniors, John Rockwood of Westford, Mass., and Joe Romeo of Baldwinsville, N.Y.; and business senior Sarah David of Syracuse, N.Y.

They were accompanied by their instructor Prof. Charles Robinson, director of Clarkson’s Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) and Shulman Chair of Rehabilitation Engineering. Prof. Boris Jukic of the School of Business co-advises the group.

Tracy Tuttle of St. Lawrence NYSARC, a NYSID member agency, also accompanied the Clarkson team to the CREATE Symposium.

The following Clarkson team members were instrumental to REVISED but were unable to attend the CREATE Symposium: chemical and biomolecular engineering senior Christine Moore of Corning, N.Y.; bioscience senior Adam Presser of Lynnfield, MA, and MBA students Michelle Park of Hydeville, Vt.; Madeline Vincitore of LaGrangeville, N.Y.; Jason R. Menard of Wallingford, Conn., and Saad Al Mushabbab of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Assemblymen Angelo Santabarbara (D-111), Michael Benedetto (D-82) and Jeffrion Aubry (D-35) recognized the NYSID and CREATE participants on the floor of the NYS Assembly. Senator Patricia Ritchie (R-48) visited with the Clarkson students at their display.

Ron Romano, NYSID president and CEO, said that the new, inspiring technologies and devices that were displayed remove barriers from the workplace by increasing productivity and improving lives and livelihoods. He thanked the New York State legislators, student engineers, and NYSID member agencies for “CREATE-ing change by Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive Technology.”

Established in 1975, NYSID is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, which creates employment opportunities for nearly 6,800 New Yorkers with disabilities annually. NYSID supports job creation efforts for a diverse group of New Yorkers with disabilities through a statewide network of 166 community rehabilitation agencies and private sector business partners. For more information on NYSID, visit http://www.nysid.org. For more information on CREATE, visit http://www.createnysid.net.

At Clarkson, the biomedical engineering minor combines a rigorous education in a traditional engineering discipline with an exposure to many of the various disciplines with the biomedical engineering fields. Clarkson is proud that fully 75 percent of all who have received the biomedical engineering minor have continued in the biomedical field, either clinically, or with a biomedical engineering industry, or in a biomedical engineering department in graduate school.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: A group of Clarkson University students recently demonstrated their biomedical engineering senior design project during NYSID’s first CREATE Symposium at the Legislative Office Building in Albany. Above, left to right: St. Lawrence NYSARC CEO Daphne Pickert, St. Lawrence NYSARC Sales Representative Tracy Tuttle, NYS Senator Patty Ritchie, Clarkson Students John Rockwood, Madison Lyndaker, Sarah David and Joe Romeo, and Clarkson Professor Charlie Robinson with Clarkson's recycling table.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/biomedical-albany.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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