Having recently graduated from BCIT (new window) with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering (new window), Charles was looking for an opportunity to make a difference. That’s when he found a youth internship with the Neil Squire Society working on the LipSync project, which allows people with little or no hand movement to use touchscreen devices.
“I was interested in a position which gives back to society,” he explains.
With experience as a peer tutor and a residence advisor at BCIT, he was no stranger to making a positive impact on his community. Charles focused on re-designing the LipSync — originally designed six years ago to be mass manufactured — so that it can be largely 3D printed (new window) by makers, much cheaper than traditional distribution, and therefore much more accessible.
“I was able to use my engineering education to solve real world problems,” he says. “Engineering can open up a world of opportunities for people with disabilities and I enjoyed being part of that.
“Before starting at Neil Squire, I was unaware of the open source, maker (new window) community specializing in accessibility devices for the disabled. It has been very rewarding to immerse myself in this culture.”
While working on the new re-design, Charles had to take into account the various set-ups that potential LipSync makers might have in order to ensure an accessible end product.
“Over the last three months, I’ve honed my design and communication skills,” he explains. “3D printing is still a young technology and print quality and accuracy can vary from printer to printer. It was a challenge to design a finished product which can be printed on a variety of printers with different materials.”
While working towards a Professional Engineering Distinction, Charles looks forward to continuing on with the Neil Squire Society, continuing to develop the LipSync and working on other projects to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
“I enjoyed working with the people of Neil Squire, whether that be project team members, other interns, clients, co-workers, or managers. Everyone is very friendly and it creates a wonderful working environment.”