Two Carleton University engineering students have won the top two prizes in the Council of Ontario Universities’ annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) competition.

Both winning projects – a device to assist people in standing up from a sitting position and an app to keep people on track with their goals – were led by Quayce Thomas and Brendan O’Brien, architecture students in Carleton’s research-intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design (FED).

“We’re incredibly proud of Quayce and Brendan for their groundbreaking work,” said Dean Mellway, acting director of Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design). “Carleton’s history of high achievement in the IDeA competition underlines the university’s commitment to accessibility in all fields of endeavour.”

“Our students are focused on creating solutions to real-world problems,” said FED Dean Rafik Goubran. “And many of their innovative projects end up in the marketplace where they can help a wide range of people.”

Taking first place was Timsle, an accountability network that keeps users on track with their goals. The app promotes healthy active living by having others check in to make sure users are meeting the goals they’ve shared with their social networks.

In second place was Ascent Line, a collection of pneumatic assistive devices. The product is designed to assist users in and out of a seated position while positioned beside a couch or chair. The conceptual idea for the Ascent Line was that an assistive device can be an aesthetically pleasing addition to a home.

“The IDeA competition goes a long way in raising awareness about the importance of accessible design for a new generation of designers,” said O’Brien, who studies at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. “We’re incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve with these projects.”

“It’s an honour to be included among such high-calibre projects in this year’s IDeA competition,” said Thomas, also a student in the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. “Accessibility is becoming a larger part of design all the time. Everyone can benefit from the availability of assistive tools like these, and we’re trying to bring them to a wider audience.”

Ten finalist teams from five Ontario universities showcased their inventions at the People in Motion exhibit at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Also in the top 10 was a garden planter and hand-washing station for patients using the Healing Garden at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, designed by students Jin Kyung Kim and Dayna Conway, who are studying Industrial Design in the Faculty of Engineering and Design.

Carleton has an excellent track record in the IDeA competition. Carleton projects swept the top three in 2013 and, in 2014, the university took the first and third prizes.

All 21 Ontario universities participated in the contest, which is supported through the Ontario government’s EnAbling Change program and partners at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

The winner and two runners-up will receive prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 respectively. A bonus prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the IDeA that best addresses a barrier in para-sport and active living.

Monday, June 1, 2015 in
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