As the global aging population rises and the scale of diseases that come with aging increases, more than 2 billion people will need at least one assistive technology device – anything that helps a person achieve enhanced performance or improved function to access information – in the next 30 years, according to The World Health Organization.
The Tseng College at California State University, Northridge is preparing students for this emerging field by unveiling a revamped online master’s of science program in assistive technology engineering (ATE) for the spring semester of 2021.
Assistive technology devices or apparatuses are primarily developed for the elderly and people with disabilities to improve their quality of life and independence. Assistive devices include hearing aids, prosthetics, text-to-speech software and closed captions.
“If you think about it from a broad perspective, everybody uses assistive technology,” assistive technology engineer professor Dale Conner said. “Whether it’s a ramp, curb cuts or the touch screens on your phone, they help everybody.”
The completely online program trains students to design assistive technology tools and was transformed from an on-campus program to meet the needs of working adults and to reach a larger audience.
“The online program really enables us to broaden our reach by bringing in a diverse group of students from across the country that are focused on common academic and career interests,” said Jesse Knepper, program manager for the Tseng College.
The online master’s program will provide students with hands-on experience that will help build their portfolios to share with prospective employers. Students will work with engineers to learn how to design and develop new assistive technology products, expand their technical abilities and identify new uses for existing assistive technologies.
“Annually, CSUN holds one of the largest assistive technologies conferences in world, making our presence in the field very well recognized,” said Jessie Revlin, director of marketing and communications for The Tseng College. “This is really our opportunity to showcase what CSUN can offer academically to perspective students who want to advance their careers in this particular field,” Knepper added.
In conjunction, a masters of science program in assistive technology studies and human services will also be offered in the spring in partnership with the College of Health and Human Development. The program focuses on training students to assess, assist and empower people using assistive technology in their daily lives.
Applications for the spring 2021 cohort will be accepted from Feb.13 through Nov.17, 2020.