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National Federation of the Blind Conducts Engineering Program for Blind Students

National Federation of the Blind Conducts Engineering Program for Blind Students

Baltimore, Maryland (June 21, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, under the auspices of its National Center for Blind Youth in Science, will conduct the first of two summer engineering programs for blind high school students here this week. The NFB EQ program, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is designed to help blind students find their “engineering quotient” by engaging them in projects to help solve real-world problems in realistic scenarios. Each team of students will create proposals with accompanying models, which the team will pitch to various stakeholders. After constructing life-size prototypes of their designs, the students will test them in authentic settings. They will also have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a number of engineers from across the country, some of whom happen to be blind. In this week’s program, the students will design and construct water filtration systems and boats capable of carrying two people each, to provide potable water and transportation to a fictional group of campers trapped on an island after torrential rain and mudslides. Among other techniques, the students will use tools to create tactile drawings.

Throughout the program, students will work to demonstrate mastery of the engineering design processes, as well as engineering concepts such as prototyping, design viability, and data collection and analysis. This program will provide teens with the opportunity to hone their engineering skills—from technical knowledge, to problem solving ability, to the understanding that through engineering one can improve other people’s quality of life. A second program will be conducted July 31–August 6.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Engineering and other STEM fields are often falsely thought to be closed to the blind, although there are many blind people working in such fields. This program, the latest in our series of groundbreaking efforts to engage blind youth in STEM, will allow twenty blind students from across the nation to explore engineering and build the skills and confidence they will need to succeed in the career of their choice and live the lives they want.”

For more information about the program, please visit http://www.blindscience.org/NFBEQ.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1322855.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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