Xbox Project Provides Eye-Opening Experience for University Students

Nov 2, 2009

        The classroom moved into the real-world for a group of University of Scranton electrical engineering students who reconfigured an XBOX to meet the physical capabilities of a 15-year-old boy with a spinal cord injury.

        The student-driven project fulfilled the wish of Danny Sampson, a sophomore Central Columbia honor roll student, who was no longer able to play the XBOX games he liked because of his injury. His father, James Sampson, had tried several component adjustments available for the XBOX, but none worked.

        Ayad Haboubi, Ph.D., director of rehabilitation technologies at Allied Services Rehabilitation Hospital, who was treating Danny, approached the faculty of the Physics Department at The University of Scranton about reconfiguring an XBOX for the child.

        This spring, The University of Scranton Physics/Electrical Engineering Department was awarded a $7,500 grant by the Northeast Pennsylvania Technology Institute to support the project that was designed to be student-driven.

        Electrical Engineering seniors Ryan Savage of Scranton, Patrick Wagner of Bayside, N.Y., and Raymond Orchard of Clarks Summit led the project.

        "It was an eye-opening experience," said Wagner. "It moved the classroom into the real-world. The project required extensive circuit analysis and the manipulation of the circuits to be able to do what Danny needed."

        Savage, who worked on the project extensively over the summer months, explained that the XBOX was reconfigured using sensors that measure orientation and force that were added to a shoulder strap and at the top and bottom of the handgrips.

        The first prototype was tested over the summer and the final unit was presented to Danny this semester. The presentation on campus gave Danny the chance to play Halo 3 and become comfortable with the device as the students explained its operation to him and his family.

        This is not the first time the students have explained their work. Already the Scranton students have presented this project at several academic conferences both on and off campus.

        "I learned engineering at a different level when I had to communicate my ideas to other people and give presentations on this project," said Savage.

        The students will continue to fine-tune the design during their senior year, now focusing on trying to reduce the weight of the unit and the power requirements for its operation.

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