“Making: An Interdisciplinary Assistive Technology Project”

  • ©Susan Reiser, Rebecca Bruce, Jackson Martin, and Brent Skidmore

  • ©Susan Reiser, Rebecca Bruce, Jackson Martin, and Brent Skidmore



Entry Number: 81


    Making: An Interdisciplinary Assistive Technology Project



    We teamed engineering and art students together to develop assistive technology projects in our sculpture and computer science classes. Together, they and their instructors honed their teamwork skills as teachers and learners, as we all collaboratively designed and fabricated the projects. As a group, we examined the notions of ability, the needs of and societal reactions to differently-abled people, and then created assistive devices. We explored alternative designs in foam and 3D modeling software, and cast parts in bronze or aluminum before fabricating the final prototypes. Design was emphasized throughout the project, with respect to both form and function.


    Bruce, R. and Reiser, S. 2015. Challenging notions of being normal in the CS classroom. J. Comput. Sci. Coll. 31, 2 (December 2015), 252–259.
    Carter, L. 2014. Interdisciplinary computing classes: worth the effort. In Proceedings of the 45th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (SIGCSE ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 445–450.
    Chakravorty, A. 2015. Course brings together artists and engineers for ambitious design project. University of Wisconsin-Madison, http://www.engr.wisc.edu/news/archive/2015/Feb13-Art-Engineering-Course.html.
    Chuang, B. 2004. And You Can Quote Me on That: Students with Disabilities at UM. ed. University of Michigan, 2004.
    Etkina, E. and Mestre, J. P. 2004. Implications of Learning Research for Teaching Science to Non-Science Majors. SENCER Backgrounder, 1–25.
    Isaacson, W. 2014. The Innovators. Simon & Schuster, New York.
    Menand, L. 2015. Learn By Painting, The New Yorker. October 27, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/learn-by-painting.
    US Census. 2012. Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S. Census Bureau Reports. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html.



    This material is partially based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1323610. We thank Autodesk for making Fusion 360 freely available for students and faculty. The authors gratefully acknowledge the essential contributions of Sara Sanders, Engineering Design Studio Manager; Matt West, Lecturer in Art; and Dan Millspaugh, Professor Emeritus in Art.


ACM Digital Library Publication:

Overview Page: