CanAssist engineering now available to campus units


- Anne Tolson

Campus units and departments who require customized engineering services for their projects and research can look a bit closer to home, thanks to new equipment and new capacity at UVic’s own CanAssist.

CanAssist has developed technologies for people with disabilities since 1999, earning a sterling reputation in the process. Now the group has expanded its repertoire to provide expert engineering services to the wider UVic community.

There are several benefits to working with CanAssist’s team: years of experience in mechanical, electrical and software engineering; a fully equipped machine shop and prototyping lab; its ability to work efficiently in a university environment; competitive rates; and the fact that all proceeds are invested back into the program.

“By using our engineering team’s expertise, the UVic community can help support the amazing work CanAssist does for people with disabilities,” says Darcy Lane, CanAssist’s manager of hardware engineering.

Making its services more widely available at UVic is a result of the organization’s new strategic plan, which emphasizes increased academic engagement. While CanAssist’s goal is still to provide customized technologies to people with disabilities, the group is excited about increasing opportunities to engage those on campus—both in its disability work and through faculty—and student-initiated projects.

Lane says the team has already begun working on a variety of projects for clients on campus. One involves building miniature sensors for the biology department that will be used for research into stroke and other conditions. Another, for Dr. Kimberly Kerns of the psychology department, involves refining software games that help assess children’s cognitive abilities.

“Working with CanAssist on my current project has been wonderful —they are professional, enthusiastic and understand the specific needs of research,” says Dr. Kerns. “Not only are their people aware of the best software and technologies to use, but if changes or upgrades are needed in the next few years, the ongoing support is readily available.”

While UVic provides significant resources to CanAssist, such as building space, utilities and some administrative services, the group’s operating budget is financed primarily through government grants, service contracts and philanthropy. Working with researchers and others at UVic is one more way for CanAssist to be financially self-sustaining—another goal highlighted in its strategic plan.


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Keywords: CanAssist, technology

People: Darcy Lane, Kimberly Kerns

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