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New Technologies helping Children with Disabilities proven to be a Success

November 25th, 2014

One of the most rewarding aspects of the engineering field comes when the hard work of engineers helps humanity in some measure. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering recently released the findings from a study using humanoid robots to help autistic children, and even Alzheimer’s patients, learn autonomous tasks.

Needless to say, their work appears to be very promising. Let’s take a closer look.

Robots helping Autistic Children to Learn

The USC study, led by Maja Matarić, Vice Dean for Research at the Viterbi School, leveraged humanoid shaped robots performing specific cues or prompts to help patients learn — or relearn — a variety of skills. The study subjects essentially played a game of copycat with the robots. Matarić commented on the study’s hopes.

“There is a vast health care need that can be aided by intelligent machines capable of helping people of all ages to be less lonely, to do rehabilitative exercises, and to learn social behaviors,” Matarić said. “There’s so much that can be done that can complement human care as well as other emerging technologies.”

The robots give feedback by saying “Good Job!” when the children successfully imitate their cues. If they aren’t successful, the robot simply repeats the cue. The ultimate hope is that the autistic children would learn the right social skills to help them better interact with other kids during gameplay.

Children who received the robotic feedback tended to show improved performance as the tests continued. Those in a control group with no feedback, showed no marked improvement. “The idea is to eventually give every child a personalized robot dedicated to providing motivation and praise and nudges toward more integration,” Matarić said.

The promising early results from the USC study once again display how engineering innovations hold the potential to benefit humanity.

If the work at the USC Viterbi School inspires you to take your engineering career to the next level, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. As one of the top technical staffing agencies in Washington State, they are also a great source for Seattle engineering jobs. Schedule some time with The Talley Group today!

3D Printers — Emerging Tech News

August 23rd, 2013

There is little doubt that one technology with a unique potential to revolutionize society — from manufacturing to food production to healthcare — is the 3D printer. One new 3D bioprinting system in the test stages actually “prints” living cells and tissue. All engineering disciplines are poised to reap benefits from 3D printing technology in the foreseeable future.

The 3D Printing of Living Tissue

A San Diego-based 3d printing service, Organovo, developed the NovoGen MMX 3-D Bioprinter, using its embedded software and cell disposition capability to convert clinical tumor specimens into an accurate model of human tissue. The 3D bioprinting system currently produces the living cells and tissue for use in drug research. The goal is to lessen the dependence on lab animals for testing as well as improving the general efficacy of the research process.

Researchers use a cancer patient’s tumors in a laboratory setting to test a variety of drug combinations to see which one works best against the disease. These scientists are also able to analyze the interaction between healthy and cancerous cells in the lab. Currently, sets of bioprinted tissue models are in development for that purpose.

Human Cells as the Printer “Ink”

With the NovoGen MMX, human cells serve as the printer “ink” with a Petri dish providing the “paper” for the bioprinting process. The tissue models act as the printer fonts to continue the analogy. AutoCAD developer, Autodesk assisted Organovo with the tissue modeling technology, by creating specialized CAD programs that help scientists create and modify sophisticated cell models.

Joseph Carroll, Ph.D., an associate director at the Knight Cancer Institute feels they are on the cusp of a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. “This could be very significant,” Carroll says. “We have never been able to examine this highly complex cellular signaling system in living human tissues before.”

If working on state of the art technology made possible with 3D printing inspires you, talk to the recruiting experts at The Talley Group. One of the leading engineering staffing agencies in the Seattle area, they can help take your career to the next level.

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