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High School Students Show They’ve Got the Real Stuff at UMass Lowell’s Assistive Technology Design Fair


LOWELL ߝ Students from Greater Lawrence Tech have designed a machine to help a woman with cerebral palsy fold letters at work. A Dracut high school team designed an automatic door opener so a young boy in a wheelchair can enter his home by himself after school. And students from Fitchburg have fabricated a brightly-lit reading magnifier for a woman who is losing sight from a brain tumor.

All these young people have devoted ingenuity, knowledge and long hours to projects that help people with disabilities or special needs. They will show their achievements at UMass Lowell’s Assistive Technology Design Fair 2006 on Saturday, May 6 in Cumnock Hall Auditorium, UML North. The event is free and open to the public.

The Assistive Technology Design Fair (ATDF) provides high school students with the opportunity to tackle real-world engineering design problems. The 2006 major sponsors are Tyco Electronics, 3M Touch Systems, Philips Medical Systems and UML’s Francis College of Engineering.

This year, 30 design teams and nearly 120 students from 10 high schools across Massachusetts are entering design projects. Starting in January, each student design team identifies a client with a need that can be met by designing or adapting some device.  They must brainstorm and analyze alternative design solutions, and participate in a design review meeting with engineers from industry.  Students build working prototypes of their solutions to present at the design fair, and many of the projects get delivered to clients in the end.

“Service learning is a very important focus of our college, and central to our mission of preparing future engineers,” says Prime. “So much so, that John Ting, the dean of engineering, announced that up to four $2,000 renewable engineering merit scholarships that will be made available starting next year to outstanding students who have been involved in our ATDF program.”

The day’s schedule will be as follows:

9 a.m.  Opening remarks

9:20    Poster Session 1: half of teams display their work

10       Poster Session 2: other half of teams show work

10:40   UML engineering student seniors present assistive tech projects

11:10   Five best Design Fair projects give oral presentations and demonstrations

12       Awards

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management; the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. Visit our website at


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