TIP/OPPORTUNITIES ABROAD FOR STUDENT WITH DISABILITIES
Until this summer, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Tyler Engel, a fifth-year senior in mechanical engineering, had never left the country.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Until this summer, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Tyler Engel, a fifth-year senior in mechanical engineering, had never left the country. The farthest he's ever been from Madison, his hometown, is Seattle. On June 14, he'll be going much farther, spending eight weeks at the University of Agder in Grimstad, Norway.
The university is hosting a fluid dynamics course for both UW-Madison and Agder students, to be taught by UW-Madison mechanical engineering professor Jay Martin. American students will also study Norwegian culture and history, while Agder students will spend time learning about America.
Engel has a condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which limits his movement and strength, and uses an electric wheelchair to get around campus. On top of the ordinary hurdles of leaving the country-getting his passport, learning enough Norwegian to say "please" and "thank you"-he will navigate an unknown accessibility landscape and the very real probability of having equipment fail on the long international flight, a common problem for power wheelchairs.
"It's not a matter of 'will it break?' so much as 'what will I do when it does?'" Engel says. "But I'm travelling with engineers, so we'll probably figure something out."
And Tyler won't be without UW-Madison support: Martin is also director of the UW-Madison Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology ( UW-CREATe ), which develops assistive technologies to help people with disabilities be independent, active participants in their lives.
"This will be an amazing experience and an enormous problem-solving adventure for Tyler," Martin says.
A student who loves the outdoors and music, and plays power soccer-a wheelchair sport where players 'kick" the ball by spinning their chairs-when he's in Madison, Engel says he's looking forward to the new experiences the trip will bring, from visiting Norway's fjords, he hopes, to seeing at least one of the several European capitals within easy reach of Grimstad.
"I'm nervous and excited," he says. "It's a great opportunity."
For more information or to speak with Engel, contact Christie Taylor, science writer for the UW-Madison College of Engineering, at email@example.com, 608-263-5988 ###
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