Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access honors Wireless Elevator Remote Control (VIDEO)

ECE News

Corey Blumenthal, ECE ILLINOIS
11/28/2016 4:47:13 PM

Story Highlights

ECE ILLINOIS staff member and alumnus Dan Mast (BSEE ’84) is a member of the University of Illinois project, Wireless Elevator Remote Control (WERC). Mast and other members of WERC were recognized for their “Excellence in Access and Accommodations” by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access (ODEA).

The Excellence in Access and Accommodations was one of five awards presented at the ODEA’s Annual Celebration of Diversity on November 11, 2016. This recognition honors “individuals or campus units for their efforts to expand and improve the utilization of programs and structures by persons with disabilities.” ODEA created a video about their work.

The WERC team, composed of various campus organizations and individuals, was formed in 2007. The group was created for individuals to meet and collaborate on how to solve real world problems. Their first project began after a student with physical disabilities was not able to call for assistance in a broken elevator.

This led to Mast, former Manager of Systems and Services in ECE, to make note of the dangers elevators can pose for those with physical disabilities, specifically insufficient access to the emergency call box due to elevator size. Over the past 7 years, WERC researched and developed a revolutionary emergency system that allows access for all individuals.

Their project has been two-fold. Their research began with the development of an elevator antenna for various electrical configurations within elevator systems. This advancement required evaluation for safety features through the state of Illinois regulatory agencies. The second part of the project was the creation of a remote control device that allows for students with physical disabilities to call the elevator itself. This gives them the ability to choose the floor of the building they wish to travel to.

The WERC team is responsible for the successful modification of 21 elevators on the Champaign-Urbana campus. These elevators are fully accessible for those who need to use the remote control device to call and access the elevator. Mast said the most rewarding part of the project was the impact on the students. “Just seeing their faces when they realize they’re going to be able to use it (the remote control),” Mast said in a 2014 article.

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