Jen Schlegel, a graduating senior in biomedical engineering, was featured in a Washington Post article shining a light on efforts to improve the accessibility of autonomous vehicles.
Schlegel took part in INNOVATE-O-thon with DriveOhio, an innovation event organized by the Institute for Materials Research (IMR). There, students were challenged to help shape DriveOhio’s technology strategy by imagining a future with self-driving shuttles on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.
Schlegel and her team pitched an idea for a paratransit system with self-driving vehicles. It was so well received she was invited to share her passion about improving mobility and access to a packed ballroom of government representatives and community members at a DriveOhio Alliance quarterly meeting.
“I spend more hours in my day in transportation than I do any other activity,” she said. “Being able to have an opportunity to share that experience with a group of people that are interested in having that conversation about what transportation looks like in the future for all populations, especially my own personal disabled population, is really something that I care about.”
IMR coordinates events like INNOVATE-O-thon to give students exposure to working with external partners who are engaged and eager to connect with undergraduates at Ohio State, said Jay Sayre, IMR Director of Innovation.
Student collaborators joined the event from multiple colleges through the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops program and its central Ohio coordinator, the university’s Ohio Manufacturing Institute.
Schlegel subsequently joined the Ohio Department of Transportation as a workforce and innovation intern with DriveOhio, where she consults on smart mobility and accessibility in paratransit and helps projects related to STEM education and workforce development.
Late last year, Schlegel received the 2020 President’s Prize for her dedication to improving people’s lives through the power of accessible educational experiences. She will lead a team in developing Handicom, a software/mobile application that facilitates the connection between ideas and written work. It’s a finger tap-based app with a library, allowing users to import homework, images, diagrams, equations and more.
Story by Mike Huson, IMR Public Relations and Frontier Center Communications
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