Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD)

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD) program supports research that will lead to the development of new technologies, devices, or software for persons with disabilities. Research may be supported that is directed to the characterization, restoration, and/or substitution of human functional ability or cognition, or to the interaction of persons with disabilities and their environment.

Areas of particular recent interest are disability-related research in neuroscience/neuroengineering and rehabilitation robotics. Emphasis is placed on significant advancement of fundamental engineering and scientific knowledge and not on incremental improvements. Proposals should advance discovery or innovation beyond the frontiers of current knowledge in disability-related research. Applicants are encouraged to contact a program director prior to submitting a proposal.

Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects are also supported, especially those that provide prototype "custom-designed" devices or software for persons with disabilities. The education of undergraduate engineering students is enhanced through Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects' awards supported by the RAPD program.

Characteristics of undergraduate engineering design projects to aid persons with disabilities include:

* The primary goal of this activity is to provide a meaningful design experience for the engineering student that will directly aid a specific individual with a disability. Undergraduate student engineers or engineering technology students develop prototype "custom-designed" devices and software in this regard.

* The PI and the students work with institutions providing care or education for individuals with disabilities.

* The proposal must include a short description of ten possible design projects. These projects should be suitable for an undergraduate student, or a small team of students, to complete in about one year. The proposal should include a letter of support from an appropriate administrator of an institution providing care or education to individuals with disabilities. The letter should certify that the institution and the university will work cooperatively on the design projects.

* The PI provides an annual report that includes a description of the successfully completed design projects during the previous academic year. Each PI is expected to implement a high percentage of projects each year. It is also expected that the projects will contain appropriate levels of quantitative engineering analysis.

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