For more than ten years, Albany Guardian Society has partnered with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to identify how the application of technology can benefit seniors. Mark Steiner, Ph.D., Director, O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory, explained how “Rensselaer’s engineering perspective gives students an opportunity to face the challenges of aging with a very different perspective.”
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Our work with the students in the Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory is a unique experience. These young engineering students are taught to tackle problems in a structured, scientific manner and they bring an entirely different perspective to many of the frequently raised problems associated with a growing elderly population.
Since 2004, projects have focused on mobility enhancement, commode redesign, lighting, and environmental design. Several of the projects have shown great promise for real-world applications and Professor Steiner, leading our walker project, was able to receive a patent in 2010.
When asked why Albany Guardian Society is working with engineering students, we are able to respond easily: We believe these projects help remind students that their technological efforts need not be focused only toward high-tech, complicated endeavors. We make them aware that their work has a direct benefit to our aging population. Heightening their sensitivity to the needs and concerns of the elderly may cause them to someday make that breakthrough discovery or that cutting-edge design that will benefit all age groups—both young and old.