The mission of the Program for Assistive Technologies for Underprivileged (PATU) is to allow students to practice engineering skills while they develop strong communication and teamwork skills, gain global perspective, and learn social responsibility through projects for persons with disabilities that otherwise could not afford assistance.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The journey home

I apologize for taking so long to post about our journey home, but as soon as we arrived back in Iowa, I've been back to work and BUSY!

So we were supposed to leave Ilheus on Saturday at 4:30 PM. Christine's family had to bring her to the airport early for some reason, and she was my ride, so we arrived about 12:15 and got all checked in so we would be 2 less people inline when everyone else arrived (told to be there at 2:30). We were sitting there relaxing when a Gol airline worker walked up to us about 1:20 and told us our flight had been CANCELED. I could NOT believe my ears, and tears were immediately in my eyes. NOT AGAIN! She wanted to get us on a flight that was to leave at 2, but we couldn't leave without our students!

Christine spent about 40 minutes on the phone trying to call all of our students to get them to get to the airport FAST. Unfortunately, after 4 more hours, and several different ticket prints later, we were not going to be getting out of Ilheus that night. They packed us all into an airline shuttle and took us to a hotel. At least it was a different hotel!!

After hours of waiting, we were told we were booked on an 8:30AM flight from Ilheus to Sao Paulo. We didn't know yet how we would get out of Sao Paulo, but at least we'd be one step closer. So we got to the airport about 7:15AM so we could all get checked in before we needed to board. We quickly had our tickets and were through security, only to find out there were MORE delays. Ilheus is a very small airport--one short runway with ocean on either end. Well, it was raining, so no planes could land for fear of skidding off into the ocean! So we had to wait (about 3 hours) until the rain stopped and a flight could come in and take us away.

It also turned out that we were actually flying to Rio de Janeiro, arriving around 2PM, and connecting to Sao Paulo, to arrive about 7:30PM. When we arrived in Rio we had to hang out for a while. Fortunately, Christine used this time to try to figure out how we would eventually get back to the US. It turned out there was a flight from Rio to Atlanta leaving at 9:30 PM, so she spent an hour and a half (on Kellner's phone) with a Delta agent arranging all of our flights to our final destinations FROM RIO instead of connecting through Sao Paulo. Yay! We were finally really on our way! After our many hours of lay over in Rio, we were going home!

Thank you to everyone for a great trip, despite the travel problems! Andy and Chris, you were great and I really enjoyed having you with me. You always kept a great attitude and kept the mood light--thanks!

That concludes our trip saga, but I will be keeping this blog updated as we continue to work on assistive technologies for underprivileged persons, both in developing areas and in local areas. At the end of the summer, my STEM Summer Research students will be working on a project for a local patient, and in the Spring we will be working on more projects in our Design Laboratory course. This project means a lot to me as well as our program, as we feel it brings a very meaningful experience to our students. We will be working on finding projects, patients, funding, and collaborators throughout the year, so keep checking back to learn more about our program!

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