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Ohio University engineering students among finalists at international wearable robotics convention

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Apr 11, 2019
WearRACon
Photo provided by: Derek Stephens

Ohio University engineering students among finalists at international wearable robotics convention

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Apr 11, 2019

Photo provided by: Derek Stephens
A wearable exoskeleton designed by five Russ College of Engineering and Technology graduate students, all of whom are also 2018 alumni, was one of just eight projects presented by both industry and academic experts at the international wearable technology convention WeaRAcon last month in Scottsdale, Arizona.
 
Recognized alongside designs by six professional firms and just one other university, the team of industrial and systems engineering(ISE)  master’s students -- Aaron Doudna, BSETM ’18; Nate McNamara BSISE ’18; John Mollica, BSISE ’18; Andrew Stanczuk, BSETM ’18; and Derek Stephens, BSETM '18 – developed the device as part of Associate Professor of ISE Diana Schwerha’s human factors course. 

“We wanted to make an exoskeleton that simulates pretty much every upper body exercise you would do if you went to a gym,” said Doudna, who explained that the device eliminates the energy recoil felt when a rep is completed. “We want to target rehabilitation and physical therapy clinics.”                                

Schwerha’s course examines how technology can be designed around people. Within just 30 days, the team took the design from paper to a working prototype.

“We work on concepts and then applications,” Schwerha said. “We always consider the compatibility between the task demands and the user’s ability. Their project served to address a gap in the need to exercise at home utilizing current technologies that are utilized in novel ways.”

Both Doudna and Stephens, who earned undergraduate degrees in engineering technology and management (ETM) at the Russ College, said their undergraduate experience gave them the skills needed to fully develop to concept.

“It gave us the ability to take this from words on a paper to a working design,” Stephens said.

Schwerha tied the notion of creating technology with people in mind, especially in the case for rehabilitation, to the Russ College’s philosophy.

“Allowing a person with disabilities, transportation problems, or a busy lifestyle to exercise at home and stay healthy is definitely an example of creating for good,” Schwerha said.

The team, which plans to integrate feedback they received at the competition into the design, is working with the College of Business on ways to turn the exoskeleton into a marketable product.

Marissa McDaid contributed to this story.