About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?
Essay response by Isaac Shyu, Case Western Reserve University
Gravity is the biggest obstacle facing all seniors today. It restricts movement, fights against all efforts, and is an everyday hassle to deal with. In order to develop solutions to overcome this malice through engineering and technology, the full burden of gravity’s restrictive nature needs to be understood.
When we boil everything down, mechanics is simply the movement of objects due to force. These forces include tension, friction, and compression. Gravitation is a factor in friction which fights against most of the forces that we apply. One of the main goals of mechanical engineering is to coax objects to move together smoothly and overcome these forces with minimum effort. Those who can no longer rely on themselves to combat gravity, can rely on the products that engineers design and build. In turn, the knowledge we rely on comes from an engineering degree.
In higher engineering education, we study topics that deal with restrictive forces in the form of static or dynamic forces as well as the transfer of energy from one object to another. With creativity and some math, we can analyze the amount of force it takes to move an object, such as a person, from one place to another and also measure the amount of effort that it takes. If we can reduce the effort needed to accomplish a task, it would greatly help those who no longer have the strength that the task originally required. With this in mind, engineering can make daily movements such as walking up and down stairs and reaching for a faraway object possible through feedback from our potential users and innovative ideas. Fortunately, for every engineer there will always be at least one idea. Furthermore, if you have an engineering group working on the problem, the number of ideas multiplies to form a solid product.
Mechanical and electrical engineers before us had followed this path, bouncing fantastic ideas off of one another and picking each other’s brains. For example, how does one who can no longer walk move from place to place? One solution is a manual or electric wheelchair, designed and built by teams who understood the need for mobility and ease. What about those who have difficulty entering and exiting the shower? A watertight door or swinging chair system can be installed, also conceived by engineers who aim to make life fulfilling to those who require the assistance. As our knowledge in technological advances grows at an exponential rate, the inventions produced will continue to churn out endless solutions to the needs of seniors combating the forces of nature.
On the other hand, the design, testing, and release process of a product does not come easy. This is especially the case when people’s lives are risk; in this case the lives of those with in-home care services. But with this risk comes a sense of greater purpose. As engineers we strive to shape the world we live in to be a better place. Aiding a senior with the mindset of making their life fulfilling is a worthwhile goal knowing that the individual who benefits will become more independent. Yet, people often ask “what do a mechanical and electrical engineers actually do?” While there may be a variety of responses, the answer is simple: “we help people.” And if the seniors we help are those who need it most, we certainly made the world a better place.
Isaac is pursuing a mechanical engineering major at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.