The Artificial Language Laboratory (ALL) often serves persons for whom commercially available systems are difficult or impossible to access. The customization that we offer to make such technology accessible requires creative knowledge and skill in several areas. The following is a list of some of the skills that I contribute to this inventive process.
As co-inventor with John Eulenberg of a successful, patented product called the SCATIR switch sold by Tash . I am familiar with each step in the process of product design, prototyping, patenting, production, and marketing.
As a creator of technology solutions to aid individuals with disabilities it is my pleasure to instruct teams of talented design engineering students in MSU's capstone design engineering class. in the art of designing accessible products. Many significant inventions of assistive technology are constructed and provided to users each semester. Our talking Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer recieved national attention and has inspired Whirlpool to make all appliances accessible.
Many other projects such as custom chordic keyboards, detented joysticks, EMG sensors for device control, etc. have enabled disabled individuals to find employment and access education. These diverse control techniques have often led to new and better ways for all of us to access technology.
My relationship with many friends and associates with disabilities has led to the discovery of these devices and methods. I feel that these individuals have entrusted me with these solutions and it is my hope that our pioneering work will find a way to production and sale so that others may benefit.
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As a Rehabilitation Engineer at the ALL I work in collaboration with Prof. John Eulenberg, Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences. We work closely with assistive technology users, parents, aides, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, physicians and service providers.We contribute as members of an individual's team to the initial evaluation, system design, construction, delivery, mounting, training, and maintenance of his or her technology systems.
We regularly attend and present papers at conferences to share the results and breakthroughs of our research and development work.
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Electronic Design Engineer
The Artificial Language Laboratory is a pioneer in the field of augmentative communication. We have developed some of the world's first communication aids. Our custom designs have assisted users with multilingual voice output, music, singing, visual display, graphics, text, word processing, environmental control and wheelchair driving. Helping users develop this technology involves the creation of special electronic interfaces, electrical input devices and sensors.
We have created several successful products that are currently in production. These include the SCATIR switch, TAS switch, Detented optical joystick, and others.
To be able to serve the needs of our associates and technology users Dr. John Eulenberg and I and our staff of the Artificial Language Laboratory have set up a complete electronic development center.
This center which we refer to as the DELI (Digital Electronic Laboratory Inc.) includes
--a library of data books and CD ROM sources and specifications of electronic components
--an electronic prototyping area
--an extensive inventory of ICs, discrete semiconductors, resistors, connectors, cables, tools and test equipment
--an electronic computer aided design station running schematic capture
--printed circuit board design software from Vamp Inc.
We have also set up a printed circuit board fabrication facility where we are able to produce single- and double-sided circuit boards.
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As a mechanical design professional I keep informed of the latest products, tools and equipment by maintaining and reading subscriptions to periodicals in this field.
I am a member of RESNA's special interest group in "Universal Access" and practice the Universal Design Principles.
I annually attend the National Design and Engineering Show and Conference where I often discover new and improved methods, products and tools for incorporation into our designs.
I use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to prepare professional drawings and documentation. I am familiar with design software from Adobe, Autocad, Claris, Microsoft and Vamp.
An important step in the creation of most mechanical designs is the prototyping stage. I have personally purchased many tools and machines for this purpose. This list of tools and equipment includes portable hand tools, power drills, grinders, saws, nibblers, shears, breaks, shear presses, notcher, TIG or GTAW welder, stick welder, MIG or GMAW welder Acetylene torch, lathes, drill presses, grinders, milling machine, band saw, chop saw, sanders, polishers, table saw, scroll saw and routers.
Examples of some of the mechanical designs we have created include many different types of input devices, electronic cabinetry, wheelchair mounting hardware and accessible workstations for people with disabilities.
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Assistive Device Mounting Specialist
Mounting assistive devices (displays, input devices, notebook computers, VOCAs, etc.) on an individual's wheelchair or workstation is a very important part of providing technology. Our ergonomic mounting systems are unsurpassed in function and quality due in part to the strategy we use for designing and building them.
1. At a team meeting with the user and his or her support people, we try to picture where the device might be located in as many possible situations as possible: transfers, eating, driving, reclining, working at tables, toileting, etc.
2. We offer options and listen to ideas of where the communication system could be during use and where it might swing to or move away to when it is not needed. Our ability to make custom supports and clamps allows more flexibility in the design and most often makes a system easier to use as well as more beautiful.
3. The device is positioned temporarily by holding it in place and the bracketing and supports are described and sketched.
4. The components are then fabricated or machined. I do all my work in my portable machine shop shown in the picture above.
5. The device is then installed on the user's chair or desk, and final adjustments are made.
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In 1973, when I was an officer in Western Michigan University's Amateur Radio Club, I developed a special instruction course for teaching radio electronics to blind students from the university. I used a special braille paper to generate tactile graphics for the students to feel schematics and circuit diagrams. We actually made some simple code practice oscillators with their newly learned skills. And many of my students went on to get their FCC licenses.
In 1994 to 1995 Dr. John Eulenberg and I collaborated on a textbook/ laboratory manual for the course Telecommunication Instrumentation Laboratory (CAS 492) in the Department of Telecommunication at MSU. This is a course for telecommunication majors. I also worked as a teaching assistant for Professor Eulenberg for this two-section course in 1993-94 and 1994-95. I received excellent reviews from the students and was successful in teaching them many difficult concepts. In the years 1993-96, I helped Dr. Eulenberg to train five electronics engineering graduate students to teach the course and conduct the various electronics laboratory modules.
Currently I enjoy conducting the adaptive electronics laboratory in Professor Eulenberg's graduate course in augmentative and alternative communication (ASC 823X), where we teach basic electrical skills to Speech-Language Pathology Students. These skills will enable them to wire simple switches and electrical toys and devices for their clients. The students come away from this lab with their own functioning adaptive switches. Even if they don't choose to do their own electric adaptations in their professional practice, they will have a better appreciation of what can be done to help their clients access the world.
As a creator of technology solutions to aid individuals with disabilities it is my great pleasure to instruct teams of talented design engineering students in MSU's capstone design engineering class." I also deliver lectures each semester in "Assistive Technology and Universal Design"
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Commercial and Residential HVAC System Designer and Installer
My career as a heating system builder began as a lad in the late 1950's when I assisted my father with the coal fired gravity flow boiler we used to heat our home in Berrien Springs, MI. We later converted the system to natural gas and it is still working flawlessly to this day. I later went on to install numerous other systems including gas and oil fired forced air, electric heat pump, and radiant electric.
My most recent design and installation is the new heating system at the University Seventh Day Adventist Church in East Lansing, Michigan. This hot water system replaced an old 1 million BTU steam boiler with two ultra high efficiency condensing boilers from Triango-Heatmaker. The heat is distributed throughout the church using flexible Kitek tubing from Ipex. All base board and convectors are entirely gravity air flow. Short loops of Heatway hose were used in the baseboard runs to serve as expansion joints. This ensures a silent source of heat. The entire multi-zone system is controlled from one control panel in the boiler room. Each zone is programmed separately using White Rodgers 7 day thermostats with remote temperature sensors. Each stat controls a single Taco wet rotor circulating pump for each zone. The boilers and staging are controlled by a Tekmar 252 boiler control which adjusts the system water temperature as a function of outdoor air temperature. The system is completely automated and maintenance free year round.
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