BS, Robotics and Embedded Systems
People missing a limb can feel like they are missing a piece of themselves. As a former marine, Robotics and Embedded Systems major David Strait watched some of his injured friends struggle with their prosthetics and wondered why there isn’t better, more accessible robotic prosthetics available. It triggered something in him.
The Tiffin, Ohio native was inspired to solve a real-world problem for wounded veterans – timely, affordable access to higher quality prosthetics. So he devoted his Student Innovation Project at UAT to developing his own technology and designing the neural prosthetic. It’s an open source, 3D printable prosthetic arm with an Emotiv EEG headset that controls the arm with your mind thanks to his unique Python-language interface.
Together with Professor Mark Fedasiuk, he designed a Python programming interface in UAT’s Makers Fab Lab. The software serves as an interface and a unique training suite. Brainwaves are trained to control a task—in this case, a hand. Each grasp is different, so each one has to be linked to a singled out frequency in the brain. One targeted brainwave makes for one motion, such as closing all fingers to make a fist.
David’s Emotiv EEG headset interprets EEG brainwaves into useable Python code. Raw EEG data is translated with a Python program to initiate movement in the prosthetic device just by thinking. His goal is to create sensors that will go directly into a baseball cap or sleeve so it can be worn discreetly all day.
David checked out hundreds of colleges from his barracks and ultimately decided on UAT because of its comprehensive robotics focus. He registered just two months before his discharge. When that day came, he drove straight from the Marine Corps to UAT.
What David likes the most about UAT and the robotics program are the resources. "I’ve never been a part of something that has such pride in keeping up with the latest technology. If the University knows something will enhance a student's learning, they will invest in it. Students create amazing things every year and it’s good to be a part of those teams. Their passion is to ensure students have the latest technology to work with."
David is lucky to be alive. And now, as a senior, is looking toward a future of robotic prosthetics in his quest to help injured vets feel the same.