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.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is something we strive to instill in our students, yet always have difficulty assessing or really figuring out what represents that idea.  I would say that what are students experience on a trip such as this really ignites a student's lifelong learning.  To me, I think that lifelong learning is being able to learn from all situations in which you are placed, and to strive to understand that which you do not. 

UESC Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students presented to us many of the projects they are working on both in and outside of class.  I think it was interesting to see how similar a lot of the work is and at the same time be able to observe contrasts.  The main contrast, I think, is the materials that are used and the access to them.  They presented projects on developing a solar-powered heater (for water, not homes), electric car, Baja car, and a completely automated sorting device (just to name a few).  We then presented a few of our devices to them.  I think students from all universities enjoyed discussing their projects and engineering with each other.

After a brief visit to the Itabuna mall, where many souvenirs were purchased, we headed to the clinic in Itabuna called CREADH.  In this clinic, they work with patients of all ages and the care is free.  Most of the patients are children with disorders such as cerebal palsy who have limited control of their movement.  We learned that the government of Brazil does provide funding for those with disabilities to survive minimally.  They especially provide funding for older people who have become disabled, providing different levels of funding depending on whether you will likely return to the workforce after recovering or if you must retire.

Chris explained the Communication Device to the Occupational Therapist, Camila.  While I think it is a bit overwhelming, I think she is very grateful and excited to try it out with Emanuelle, a young lady with Cerebral Palsy, on Thursday.  Chris worked on this project with Connor, Elyse, and Michelle, but it is a result of the efforts of several students in the last 3 years.  This is the third iteration of the device, and we hope that it will be a keeper!

Adrianna they showed Camila the Beasy board that was purchased as a first step to try to ease the burden of Mr. Milton's transfers.  Mr. Milton is a quad amputee (see one of my posts from 2011--he is an amazing person), and the group (Adrianna, Amanda, and Kathryne) made a first iteration device to help him transfer to the toilet on his own.  Unfortunately, it was decided not to bring that specific device without doing some refining first. 

It was a really great day and I think the students are beginning to see what this is all about.  They did a great job interacting with the children at the clinic-they got a thumbs-up!


  1. I'm so happy to be part of this. I'm learning a lot from this experience. by Priscilla

  2. Thank you to all of you for the commitment ... dedication ... and achievements ...
    And we feel grateful to you for visiting!
    When we want to ... got it!
    The smile is the best demonstration of how much we were happy and hopeful about our partnership.
    Thank you, always! Everyone involved in the project!

    Occupational Therapist