I never got around to posting about my time at Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), where I was a researcher and shop manager. CATEA designs and tests all sorts of technology to help disabled people. The entire lab is a sort of skunk works operation; imagine Myth Busters “what crazy thing do you want to try today”. I was responsible for bringing to life the ideas and inventions of several Georgia Tech professors and their grad students. I had an entire shop at my disposal and best of all a Georgia Tech VISA card!
I had an amazing shop setup. It really was “my shop”. I had a 3 axis NC mill, a metal lathe, band saws, drill presses, a table saw, rolling toolboxes full of tools, full electronics fab/diagnosis room, and shelves and shelves of raw materials and spare parts.
My mentor at CATEA was the current researcher/shop manager, Jon Jowers. My first six months were spent training to be his replacement. He exposed me to an amazing amount of fabrication techniques and design knowledge. I worked on projects developing:
- six-wheeled articulating-arm wheelchairs for the elderly
- hand-held 3D imaging cameras for monitoring the healing progress of bed sores
- folding/retracting handicap restroom grab bars
- electric foot rests for wheelchairs
- wheelchair seat cushions that inflated/deflated to improve blood flow
- electronic gloves and hats to allow amputees to play Wii
- electronic tape dispensers for disabled UPS employees
- novel human “butt models” for testing the durability of wheelchair cushions
- test rigs for repetitive cushion testing
- PLC-based climate-controlled test room
I miss the shop and can’t wait until the day when I can build out such a space for my personal use.