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Have a project idea?

Each year, biomedical engineering students at UNC build custom assistive technology projects for people with disabilities. We obtain all project ideas from people in the community — preferably in the Durham-Chapel Hill area.  Each project has a supervisor, typically a teacher, therapist or other heath care professional, who works with the students to insure the device is safe and meets the needs of an individual with a disability.  At the end of the semester, the students give the custom devices and a user’s manual to the individual and their providers. If you are interested in proposing a project and being the project supervisor, please contact Richard Goldberg using the Contact Us form on this website.  You should plan to work with the students for the entire semester. They really need your support so that they can design and build a device that is useful to you and your clients. We evaluate project ideas according to the following criteria:

  • A small team of students has a relatively short time to design and build the project; therefore, very simple and very complex projects are not appropriate.
  • There should be no published designs or commercial devices that address the need.
  • Total cost of parts not to exceed $400/project.
  • Clients and their health care providers should be available to interact with students throughout the semester.

Students will meet with you to better understand your needs and whether they are capable of addressing these needs with a custom device.  If your project is chosen by a student group, they will contact you immediately to setup a subsequent meeting.  The project supervisor has the following responsibilities:

  • Meet with the students at least once/month during the semester at the supervisor’s work location. This gives the students an opportunity to: learn more about the proposed device; see the setting where it will be used; and test prototypes that they have built.
  • Answer questions from the students when they contact you by email and/or telephone
  • If possible, attend the student presentations of their work; these occur two times during the semester on the UNC or Duke campus.


  • August-September: compiling a list of needs
  • October: choosing project
  • November-December: understanding needs, working on initial design ideas
  • January-April: Students work on projects
  • early May: Project delivery

Other projects are done locally in the fall semester at Duke University. Please consult their website for more information on submitting a project idea for their class in the fall.