Entry into the AT field:
How I got into the
I started doing graduate
research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, based on an offer from a professor from whom
I was taking a course.
include, MA Mathematics, MS Biomedical Engineering, PhD Biomedical
Important event(s) that influenced
my early decision to get into the assistive technology field
James Cockrell directed a research and ad hoc
clinical program in rehabilitation engineering in the Department of Physical
Medicine and Rehabilitation and was very open to my participation.
Why I chose the AT
I was drawn by the opportunity
to work with people and help them to effectively use technology in areas of
My inspiration and
Jim Cockrell was the person
who introduced me to this field and strongly encouraged my participation. He
was a good engineer with strong desire and motivation to help people make
engineering and assistive technologies work for them.
Why the field is important to me
and the central focus of my work
has been an ideal field for me that has let me combine engineering research,
clinical/assistive technology service, and teaching.
My goal has been to run an "academically"
balanced program that provides high quality clinical/assistive technology
services, innovative research based on realistic observed need, and
encouragement for students to train and participate in both service delivery
My memorable successes and
greatest contributions to the field
My most memorable success has been to have the
honor to work in this field. I have received a great deal of satisfaction from
establishing and maintaining a viable and effective service delivery program,
working with my very capable staff and students, and having the opportunity to
explore innovate solutions to barriers faced by people with a variety of
I consider my greatest
contributions to be he people that have trained in our program who are now so
actively contributing to our field both in service delivery and research. Also,
I feel good about having started along a couple of new research directions that
have successfully lead to expanding research efforts in these areas.
My most memorable
I have certainly had my
share of things that didn't go as planned and didn't produce the kind of
outcomes we expected. However, I have never really considered anything I have
done in this field to be a failure as all of my activities have taught me
Significant changes and advances
in the field since I first entered it
There are too many to list but near the top must
be included the vast expansion of commercial assistive technology that has
become available, the maturation of training programs, the innovations produced
through research, the certification process RESNA developed.
The kinds of advances listed above have served to
allow us to be more effective in service delivery and to produce continuing
advancement in research.
On the future of rehabilitation
engineering and assistive technology
The future for both service delivery and research
are bright based on our continuing advancement in the development of knowledge
and expertise in these areas. The course of our future, however, is far from
barrier free given the numerous challenges we face from social, economic, and
My role within RESNA and what it
gave back to me
I have tried to focus
my efforts in RESNA towards specific activities that have hopefully led to
meaningful positive changes for our organization and the field in
On the future of RESNA
The future for RESNA has been and will probably
continue to be somewhat of a changing target. I think RESNA will have to
continue to work hard to remain as a leader and unifier in this field. However,
it is a role that needs to be filled by RESNA if we are to maintain
rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology as a valuable and important
field of endeavor.
My suggestions for those just
entering the field
tremendous opportunity for career satisfaction in our field and to help others.
Come join us, work hard, and enjoy the opportunities and benefits.