Engineering Students Helping People with Disabilities Become More Successful in the Workplace

Manhattan students are participating alongside other New York institutions in the CREATE Symposium. 

Students assisting individual with headband scannerManhattan College is one of several colleges and universities from across New York State to participate in the 2022 CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology) Symposium, where college engineering students collaborate with rehabilitative support organizations to develop innovations that help those with disabilities succeed in their jobs. 

The event, open to the public, and now in its eighth year, will take place on Monday, April 25 in Albany, New York. 

A panel of community business leaders will evaluate and score the CREATE projects. Student teams will compete to receive prize funds worth up to $15,000, to be split among students, their universities and their rehabilitation organization partners. This year, there are nine teams from five colleges and five New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) member rehabilitation organizations each presenting their assistive technology and demonstrating their inventions. Members of the New York State legislature will attend and speak at the CREATE Symposium. 

Guided by Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) faculty members Yi Wang, Ph.D., and Wafa Elmannai, Ph.D., two teams of Manhattan College students are working with the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State on two projects, as part of the ECE senior capstone design program. 

This program includes two courses: EECE410 and EECE411, which are major components of the ECE engineering curriculum. Senior capstone students take those two courses and work in multidisciplinary teams to complete a project under direction of faculty advisers and mentors. This program focuses on gaining design experience in team-oriented projects, encompassing multiple areas in electrical and computer engineering.

  • High-Res Headband Document Scanner & Transmitter. Smile Farms is a workplace that employs physically disabled individuals on various tasks, which can range from watering plants to shredding paper in bulk. Randy, who works at Smile Farm, is immobile from neck down with some control over his fingers. He aspires to work in the paper scanning department and requested the team build a device to scan documents in a way that does not require him to use his hands. The team came up with the idea of creating a wireless scanner that could transmit the scanned documents to a computer without much, if any, human involvement needed. The students involved in this project include Andrew Saint-Vil ’22, Adil Khaleque ’22, Gustavo Zarate ’22, Jorge Vasquez ’22 and Saad Hussain ’23.
  • Smart Register for Disabled Workers Using Machine Learning & Computer Vision. The Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State have a location in the Bronx that is opening a cafeteria. The workers with disabilities at this location have trouble using the cash register. The agency partner requested that the team develop a Smart Register as there are few smart cash registers designed for workers with disabilities. The team plans on using a system to scan currency with a camera. The system will recognize the currency and upload it to a touchscreen panel that is connected to an application, which will then calculate the change the worker needs to give to the customer. The students involved in this project are Cristian Simoni ’22, Michael Sarpong ’22, Camilo Rodriguez ’22, Brandon Samaroo ’22 and Daniel Samaniego ’22.