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NYSID News Blog

May 3, 2018

Mobilizing Student Engineers to Change Lives: CREATE Symposium Produces Real-Life Technologies — and Emotion

Category: General — NYSID @ 8:42 pm

Anthony Castro, a student engineer at the University at Albany, was visibly emotional as he thanked NYSID for an “incredible experience” at the fourth annual CREATE Symposium on April 25.

Just an hour before, the UAlbany team bellowed in victory when proclaimed winner of the $5,000 third-place prize for its invention.

University at Albany student engineers received third prize ($5,000) for their Bee Notified smart watch application in collaboration with Living Resources at NYSID's fourth annual CREATE Symposium

Anthony was also the guest student speaker during the Symposium’s media event, and appeared in two TV news stories on Spectrum News and NEWS10 ABC about CREATE that aired prior to the Symposium, so the whole experience stretched him even beyond his engineering skills.

NYSID developed CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology) in 2012. CREATE connects student engineers from colleges and universities across New York State with NYSID member organizations that employ individuals with disabilities.

During the academic year, students and their professors work closely with NYSID not-for-profit members to solve challenges that people with disabilities face in the workplace. At the end of the school year, NYSID members get to put a new technology to good use, and students go into their careers knowing that they’ve made a difference for this workforce.

Thanks to Anthony Castro and his fellow University at Albany student engineers, workers with disabilities from Living Resources have a new assistive technology at their fingertips.

The team developed Bee Notified, a smart watch application that assists individuals with disabilities with time management and the transition to independent living. The application streamlines communication and remote supervision between job coaches and the workers they support.

“In developing this system, our team was able to employ modern software development techniques and engineering design principles with the goal of creating a product that could best serve Living Resources, using everything that we learned in the classroom,” Anthony said. “Working with Living Resources not only let us tackle a real-world problem, it also made us understand that Bee Notified can have a real-world impact.”

NYSID hosted its largest CREATE Symposium to date on April 25 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany to showcase prototypes of technology inventions designed to increase productivity and improve the livelihoods of New Yorkers with disabilities. Students representing 14 teams from eight colleges competed for prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 for their inventions. Nine NYSID member agency not-for-profits were the recipients of the new technologies.

In addition to the University at Albany and Living Resources, participating colleges, NYSID member agencies and CREATE inventions included:

Alfred University and Arc of Steuben

Easy Pallet Packing – Eliminates bottlenecking of manually wrapping pallets of commodities.

Binghamton University and AVRE

Paper Output System – Designed to create more space to keep up with the speed at which a machine processes rolls of paper, which will also eliminate a bottleneck in paper output.

City College of New York and Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey, Inc.

ASSIST (Assistive Sensor Solution for Independent and Safe Travel) – Allows users with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to navigate complex indoor environments and become more independent

VAR4ASD – Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VAR) technologies to train individuals with ASD and help them in the workplace.

Manhattan College and Lifespire

Labeling Machine – Peels the backing off a label more efficiently

Tremor Stabilizing Glove – Reduces hand tremors, increasing productivity and timeliness in the packaging process.

New York Institute of Technology, partnered with AHRC New York City and  AHRC Nassau

Helping Hand – A prosthetic hand attached at the forearm that extends over the wrist to improve the efficiency of janitorial tasks.

Smart Cane (i2Cane) – Designed with embedded technology to detect surface obstacles, objects, and heat sources while navigating an environment.

Electro-mechanical System for Controlled Assembly of Earplugs – Speeds up the assembly process of earplugs.

Gardening Assist – A robotic arm which attaches to the back of a gardening worker’s wheelchair to assist in tool use.

Color Pen Reader – An adaptation to an existing pen audio reader, allowing the pen to interpret colored text, or text on a colored background, into audio for individuals with dyslexia.

Rochester Institute of Technology and ABVI-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester, Inc.

Sew Lean: Lean Process Improvement for ABVI Sewing Business – Improves workflow and reduces waste, which can increase accessibility for blind/visually impaired workers.

Union College and Schenectady ARC

Automated Greenhouse – An accurate and simple embedded system to heat the plants in the greenhouse.

Naira Aslanyan, regional director, AHRC New York City, participated in CREATE for the first time this year. She said, “Now a person who has wonderful skills and a small barrier to employment is going to be able to work because of the project that the students developed for him. This is really exciting! It shows how CREATE helps to overcome barriers to employment.”


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