For Ottawa’s Jorge de Almeida, watching television can be an exercise in frustration — particularly when he wants to change the channel.
Almeida lives with cerebral palsy and controls both his wheelchair and his TV remote with his left foot. But it can take five minutes or more to manipulate the remote control with his toes and find his favourite shows: CSI and the evening news.
So he beamed Wednesday when University of Ottawa engineers unveiled a new TV remote they designed and built for him using the school’s 3D printer. It’s a mountable unit, the size of a textbook, with six large buttons that Almeida can easily control with his foot.
“Great work,” Almeida announced after testing the device. (He communicates with a chair-mounted keypad that he also controls with his left foot.)
The TV remote was one of more than 100 engineering solutions on display Wednesday at the university’s second annual Design Day showcase. The event is the brainchild of uOttawa professor Hanan Anis, who holds a national research chair in engineering design.
Anis said the design competition is part of the university’s drive to ensure that its engineers graduate with the ability to create and deliver useful products.
“Employers want students who are ready for the marketplace,” said Anis, a former Nortel engineer with doctorates in both electrical and computer engineering. “The ability to speak to a customer, understand their needs and see the product development process all the way from discussion to delivery is something that’s extremely useful.”
The faculty’s second-year students tackled 16 real-life accessibility problems for Design Day.
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