An engineering student is helping envision a self-driving future for people with disabilities
The weekend she was supposed to be presenting a plan to improve transit service for people with disabilities using self-driving shuttles, Jen Schlegel was confronting her own problems getting around.
The Ohio State University engineering student had opted for a rolling walker over the wheelchair she sometimes uses, but nonetheless she was late.
“The running joke among my friends is that if you can’t find me, I’m waiting on either a bus or an elevator,” Schlegel said.
Schlegel, 27, never planned to become an engineer — math was not her strongest subject in school, and her family did not expect her to go to college. But as she learned to manage with her cerebral palsy and other health problems, she took up engineering inadvertently.
“You learn to adapt and accommodate to the world,” said Schlegel, a senior. “You start to realize the world is not likely to accommodate for you.”
And in college, she turned her attention to transportation because it was consuming so much of her day and her money. She developed her plan for an automated paratransit system in the hope it would one day be more reliable and more humane than today’s bus networks.
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