Skip to main content
Sign In

Welcome to Project Innovate!

Connecting Engineering Students from UC-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to Individuals with Disabilities to Improve Quality of Life

Project Innovate provides a place for people with disabilities and/or their caregivers to submit engineering or technology challenges they are facing to freshman Engineering students to solve!
This website is a way to gather everyday problems experienced by people with disabilities that may be overcome through creative engineering solutions. The goals of the project are to 1) Increase meaningful inclusion for individuals with disabilities with creative engineering solutions, and 2) Provide opportunities for college students to work with individuals with disabilities.

How It Works

  1. Individuals with Disabilities (or their caregivers) will submit an idea to this website.
  2. At the beginning of each semester, Dr. Piket-May will go through the idea submissions for feasibility and groups of 3-4 students in her class will select one of those projects.
  3. The group will contact the individual (aka their new client) to talk about the goals of the client.
  4. They will meet 3-5 times during the semester to fine-tune the details, take measurements (if needed), and design the prototype from start to finish.
  5. The students will present the finished product at the ITLL Expo at the end of the semester.
  6. The students will give the finished product to the client.

Do you have an idea?

 Watch the "Tips for Submitting" video on the left and click on the "Submit Idea" button below!

Interactive Comic Strip for the Visually Impaired​

In the spring of 2016, four students in Dr. Piket-May's freshman engineering class created a 3D Calvin & Hobbes interactive comic strip for the visually-impaired. Dave Bahr, who is totally blind, was  their client. He had never "gotten" the appeal of why comic strips were so popular in pop culture. The Device Girls, as they like to be called (Kelsey Pool, Anna Anderson, Elise Niedringhaus, and Cassidy Andrichik) took on that challenge.  They had to learn CAD (computer-aided design), Braille, wiring and electronics, fundamentals of audio description, and more.


CH Instagram.jpg
Top picture:
(left to right): Behind the table - Cassidy Andrichik and Elise Niedringhaus
In front of the table - Kelsey Pool, Anna Anderson, Priscilla Carlson and Dave Bahr

Bottom picture:

The Braille plates, material and prototype of the Calvins, the magnetic sensor, and the actual 3D device on the right​




CH Dave with the device.jpg
Dave Bahr's first encountering the Calvin & Hobbes 3D comic as The Device Girls are smiling. 



Wheelchair Button Cover​

In one of their conversations, Dr. Piket-May shared that she was looking for ideas for student projects for her freshman class. Carlson needed a cover for her secondary controller on her wheelchair when she traveled on an airplane. Since wheelchairs have to be loaded in the cargo area of an airplane, many wheelchairs (especially the power wheelchairs) get damaged when suitcases and other heavy items are loaded in the cargo area. After a couple of meetings between the students and Carlson in the fall of 2014, the button cover was fitted and worked perfectly for when she went home for the holidays.

Below is a picture of Haris and his classmates and the cover they made for Carlson in December 2014.

Sadly, the people who load wheelchairs into the cargo of an airplane STILL get confused so she had to tape a sign on the cover.

4 Different angles of the cover


"As a kid, comic books never held much sway over me due to my congenital blindness and their inherent proclivity to appeal to the visually-minded. So, when I was approached by a group of young engineers and their professor to create a tactile representation of one, I was thrilled to have that chance. What they created for me was far beyond any of what I had thought was possible thanks to seemingly endless curiosity, the desire to please a client, and drive to innovate and exceed expectations."

-- Dave Bahr from the 3D Calvin & Hobbes comic strip

"Working with these students has been SUCH a treat! They want to do a good job and go the extra mile for their clients (me), and that was so remarkable! They were only 18 years old, and their respect and maturity was absolutely refreshing. The cover that they designed and made for my secondary controls is awesome. I still use it every time I travel. I can't thank these guys for all of their hard work and dedication."

​-- Priscilla Carlson from the cover for the secondary control panel on a power wheelchair​


As Colorado's first "Self-Advocate" Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellow and Diversity Fellow (2015-2016) through the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and through the support of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), Priscilla Carlson used her own experience to come up with an idea for her Capstone project. During her time as an undergrad at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Carlson was very active promoting disability etiquette and universal access by presenting to students and university staff. At one of those classroom presentations, she met Dr. Melinda Piket-May, Associate Professor of Engineering. Since then, they have collaborated on numerous occasions.

A couple of years later, Carlson was part of a panel with a mother of a son who has cerebral palsy. The mother expressed a need for some type of assistive technology that would help her son with daily living activities. Carlson introduced the mother and Dr. Piket-May via email, and they began working on a project. Project Innovate was born!


Website Design

With the brilliant idea of this website and the go-ahead from her mentors and professors at JFK, Carlson got to work! Below a photo of Priscilla Carlson learning how to design a website from OIT Staff member, Michael Hystead.

Working on the website.jpg



Video Shoot

Priscilla Carlson, behind a tripod, interviewing 3 of the 4 Device Girls: Kelsey Pool, Anna Anderson, and Elise Niedringhaus. Cassidy Andrichik was out of state at the time. 



Interviewing TheDeviceGirls.jpg

For any questions, please email​​