8 weeks flies by in no time when you’re working hard! In the case of the REU this was very evident. The title of my research ended with “Path Oriented Electric Wheelchair Steering Assistance”. The project was a success, although there is still plenty of work to make it complete. The prototype and proof of concept achieved its objective and can only improve. I was able to navigate the wheelchair around campus using nothing but my navigation system. The major hurdle in this project was getting the device to integrate with the wheelchair. After a few weeks of tinkering with the joystick controller, I found that it was too proprietary and wouldn’t let my apply my own steering directions. This caused me to change up my thinking and consider how to show that the concept would wok without actually controlling the wheelchair. I eventually went with an LED array output to determine if the wheelchair was on course or not. Overall it went well and I’m pleased with the result.
In order for this concept to be applied in commercial use, I’ll need to continue coordinating with external collaborators. I will be submitting the results of my research to The Journal of Open Engineering to spread the knowledge to others that may be able to use it. Since the project is entirely open-source, others will be able to recreate my results.
I picked up many skills over my time in Menomonie. I learned basic research skills such as documentation and time-management. In addition, the ability to communicate to others was very important during presentations, written and other ways. Finally, and most importantly, finding the distinction between turning a failed idea into a learning experience and working through a challenge came up everyday and fueled my continuation.
The UW-Stout camous is beautiful and well kept. The facilities are top notch, especially the electronics lab and Fablab. I was able to get 3d printed parts very quickly thanks to the great staff in the fablab and the electronics lab had everything I needed to test out the wheelchair joystick. The other part of campus I enjoyed were the gym facilities. I’m very active and having a 24 hour weight room right next to the dorm was great considering I was there everyday. We started a tradition early on between some of the REU researchers; the bunch of us went to the Waterfront restaurant for “Waterfront Wednesday Wings”. It’s a great place to cool off in the middle of the week and enjoy a good meal on the lake!
In closing, I’d like to thank UW-Stout for hosting this program as well as the advisors for organizing and especially to Dr. Devin Berg for helping me through the entirety of my 8 weeks here.