The NSF expects that in the future the expertise of students trained in the program will have a significant impact on the lives of a large segment of the country's population including injured military veterans, the elderly, children with learning and development disabilities, individuals with autism and those with visual disabilities, among others.
In its description of the program, the NSF states that the nation will benefit from advances in health care, education and public policy expected to result from the program's research and education efforts.
"IGERT fellows will develop the ability to view technologies and their areas of expertise in ways that can serve the needs of all community members," says Jay Klein, the program's project director.
"They will be engaged in education and research in individually designed technologies that will have widespread uses," he says. "For example, while sidewalk curb cuts were originally designed for people using wheelchairs, they have become a necessity for people using strollers, bikes, skateboards, grocery carts, rolling bags, Segways, and mail carts."
With the explosive growth of new technologies and devices in recent years, the design and development of person-centered technologies "provides a new vision for device design toward not only technologies for individuals with disabilities but to the otherwise so-called able-bodied individuals," says Vineeth Balasubramanian, the fellowship program's research director.
"As devices get smaller and faster, the need for devices to conform uniquely to each individual's requirements is only aptly captured by the unique requirements of each individual with a disability," he explains. "Developing such paradigm-shifting technologies for a rewarding cause makes this program immensely attractive to talented and motivated graduate students."
Along with Panchanathan, the ASU and CSULB program team members and their areas
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Arizona State University