By Sydney Hamilton
A group of Ryerson students sit in the campus library with numerous papers and pencils sprawled out in front of them. They review their design plans before heading to the “dungeon” of Kerr Hall – also known as the Engineering Student Design Zone – to begin building devices geared towards helping students with disabilities.
The club, Devices for Disabilities, consists of 15 engineering students who meet from week to week to discuss, brainstorm and construct these devices in collaboration with disabled students.
“As an engineering student, this is of particular importance [because] our profession is based on serving the community. It is important to give back,” Steven Jones, an engineering graduate student involved in Devices for Disabilities, said. “The nature of disability can be highly varied, so individuals can benefit significantly from personalized devices.”
Edmond Farah, a third-year economics student, started the group at Ryerson less than two years ago in collaboration with Jones. Devices for Disabilities currently caters to a small number of students, but continues to expand.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to not only serve the local community, but to help develop and share technical skills within the Ryerson Engineering community,” Farah said. “Not a lot of people know about it yet, [but] it’s growing every day.”
The Ryerson club is just one cog in the machine. It’s affiliated with Tetra Society – a group with over 45 chapters across North America that aims to help people with disabilities.
The students involved are in the midst of a variety of different projects including creating cup holders for wheelchairs and bags that can attach to walkers.
But the club doesn’t just help students with disabilities. It’s also a positive way for engineering students to build their skills and gain experience while paying it forward.
“I love the model of this group,” Jones said. “It is an ideal way to improve community involvement and transfer skills amongst technical students.”