American Association for the Advancement of Science
Roadmaps & Rampways

BEYOND ALL EXPECTATIONS

'I heard the doctor tell my mother that... I was 
              going to be a vegetable...and I said I'd be an artichoke - prickly 
              on the outside with a tender heart.' -Ed Roberts, Founder of the Center for Independent 
              Living, Berkeley; remarks in a speech at a conference of the AAAS 
              Project on Science, Technology, and Disability, Stanford University, 
              July 1980

For many students, the science/math/technology pipeline is well defined: Select a major, complete the coursework, receive a degree. For students with significant disabilities, there are additional battles. From the very beginning, the students and their families must sustain high expectations, often against formidable odds. The medical, educational, and employment establishments are quick to suggest low expectations for education and careers. Even when those barriers are broken, negative public opinion is always present with stereotypical concepts, which are usually very limited, of what a person with a disability might do. Students need to have a thick skin and a strong heart to convince the wider world that what is considered impossible is indeed possible.

Meet: Robert Hill, Jacob Gapko, Miriam Rocke, and William Staderman

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Robert Hill

Ask Robert Hill how he became interested in mathematics and science. Ask how he got started on the road to a degree in mechanical engineering and a hoped-for career designing a new generation of assistive devices for individuals with disabilities. Ask, and he starts talking about a childhood interest in math and science and the teachers who turned an interest into a career goal.

"I had some of the best math teachers anywhere," Robert said. "And science teachers. Not just in one grade. It was every grade. They were enthusiastic and loved what they were teaching, and they really passed it on to their students."

Robert was raised in Atlanta, IL, which he said is a very, very small town with one gas station, one bar, and a rural school district. However, he attended elementary school and high school a half hour away in Normal, at Illinois State University's Laboratory Schools. Thomas Metcalf School, the elementary school, and University High School use a "laboratory" approach that aids in the education of future teachers studying in Illinois State's college of education. It provided the very best in classroom practice and educational technology for students. The lab schools also provided special educational services for Illinois students with physical disabilities who needed services not available in local school districts.

Lab school benefits

That combination proved to be especially beneficial for Hill, who was born with cerebral palsy, is in a wheelchair with limited use of his arms and legs, and has a 24-hour personal-care attendant. Thomas Metcalf School had facilities, teachers, and experience with students with disabilities that would not have been available at his local school. Keeping Robert in the lab school, however, proved to be a challenge for his mom, Mary Hill, a registered nurse. When Hill was 14, local school officials decided that he should return to the district and attend a regular school. "My mom waged quite a battle to keep me in the lab school." Robert said. "She fought, and fought, and didn't give up. I stayed in the lab school. If I have a role model from those days, it's definitely my mom. She showed me that perseverance pays."

Other role models influenced Robert, including a particularly stimulating 9th-grade mathematics teacher, who was struck by his natural ability. She encouraged him to study advanced concepts and participate in state and regional mathematics competition and the Scholastic Bowl.

Fascination with the mechanical

Robert can't recall the exact time when he became interested in engineering and math as a career. Yes, he excelled at math in the preschool years. The fascination with mechanical things, perhaps, was incubating in the background. Robert was constantly aware, from earliest childhood, of how mechanical devices, such as the wheelchair, both facilitated and limited the lives of individuals with physical disabilities.

Slowly, the career took shape. "It's my dream," Robert said, "to use my mechanical engineering degree to design wheelchairs and other assistive devices that make life easier and more natural for people with disabilities. Engineering seems the way to accomplish this. Since most designs are mechanical, and because I do well in math, I elected to major in mechanical engineering."

After graduating from University High at the top of his class, Robert took the next turn toward fulfilling his dream and entered one of the top engineering schools, the University of Illinois, Champaign - Urbana. At first, however, the school was Robert's number one choice because of its accommodations. "They had a dormitory for students with disabilities and were equipped to take care of all my needs," Robert said. "For example, a caretaker was on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." The State of Illinois paid for the services, rather than adding them to student housing costs.

Assistive technology

Although Robert entered the university as an "undecided" in the general curriculum program, he took the first-year courses for engineering majors. Robert used a variety of technology, including a computer with a head-mounted pointer for keyboarding and special mouse keys. In some classes, the university provided a note taker. In others, the professor shared lecture notes with him. "I was able to focus on the lecture content," Robert said. "I'm not a genius, but I have a very good memory, and pick things up very quickly. If someone tells me something once, I never forget it."

The combination of technology, accommodations, and brainpower obviously worked. Robert maintained a 3.8/4.0 GPA in the university's challenging college of engineering, while participating in other activities, including membership in the Delta Sigma Omicron fraternity, and he was Beckwith Hall student government president.

Robert lived in the dorm for the first three years of college. Fourth year, he moved off-campus to share an apartment with a friend. He regards that experience of moving off-campus as important in his transition from college to the real world.

It taught him a great deal about the assistance he will need and what he can accomplish independently. Robert learned, for instance, that he could use the "kneeling buses" in Urbana's public transportation system when going to and from classes and places around town.

Developing affordable technology

Three summer internships enhanced that knowledge, providing Robert with experience in real-world work environments. One summer, he interned at Illinois Power, one was an ENTRY POINT!/ACCESS internship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and a third was at NASA's Kennedy Space Flight Center in Florida.

Graduate school remains an option for Robert - but perhaps sometime in the future. He is eager to spend time in the world, applying his knowledge and skills. "I want to work with people and help them," Robert said. "I want to see the fruits of my labor, not sit at a desk eight hours a day."

One of his goals as a designer of assistive devices is to develop more affordable technology. In college, for instance, he designed a new key-turner for individuals with limited use of the arms and hands. It is used to insert a key into a lock and then turn the doorknob to open the door.

"I can visualize all kinds of devices that can make life easier for people with disabilities, and give them more independence," Robert said. "There's a lot of technology right now, but it is so expensive. The people who need this technology often don't have access to it because they are unable to pay such high prices."

"I am now employed by Boeing in Seattle. I'll start out by designing and maintaining engine mounts. My future goal with Boeing is to be a project leader of a group focused on making commercial jet cabins accessible to wheelchairs. This would prevent damage to wheelchairs stowed away in baggage or worse, the airlines losing your chair - both of which have happened to me."

Photo of Robert Hill

Robert Hill

 


Jacob Gapko

A senior physics major at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. Library sciences minor. Participant in a UW exchange program to study mathematics and other subjects at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Member of the student senate at Eau Claire. President of the university's chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), with 6,000 members nationally, and president of SPS's physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. Outstanding senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at UW - Eau Claire. Active in other extracurricular activities, including one committee that organizes The Forum, one of the nation's longest-running collegiate lecture series, and another that brings outstanding artists, musicians, and actors to perform on campus. Summer intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

That's a glimpse at one student who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Like so many other individuals with the most significant physical disabilities, Jacob Gapko's achievements have defied expectations and paved the way toward a career in science.

"Oh, I knew the package I was getting," said Jacob, who was diagnosed with Duchenne's at age three. "My mother explained it when I was older, and I've done a lot of reading. Sure, at some level you never really understand what's ahead. But it's been there my whole life. The strange thing is, it doesn't affect the mind at all. Your physical side dwindles, but it does that with age anyway."

Early science interest

Jacob's interest in science began in elementary school with science fair projects, including one on gravity waves. Einstein's general theory of relativity predicted that the acceleration of large masses - such as pulsars or neutron stars - should produce gravity waves. Detecting them has become one of the Holy Grails of physics. While researching the project, Jacob decided to contact the world pioneer on gravity waves, Joseph Weber, of the University of Maryland. Much to the young boy's surprise, Weber took a few minutes to respond - at a busy time when he was leaving for a conference in Europe. Weber sent his latest scientific paper on the topic. "It had a huge impact," Jacob said. "Here was a real scientist showing interest and enthusiasm about his research."

There were encouraging teachers, one in 5th grade who helped Jacob sharpen his reading skills and a 7th-grade math teacher who kindled a love of the subject. It deepened with the debut of the late Carl Sagan's immensely popular 1980 television series Cosmos on PBS. The vision became etched in stone when Jacob encountered the famous individual who must be the perfect role model for a student who is severely disabled and dreams of a career in science.

Yes, it was that Steven Hawking, the British cosmologist who rides in a wheelchair. Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (a post once held by Isaac Newton) has the progressive neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. In Hawking, Jacob saw someone with a brilliant career in science despite the most challenging mobility and communication problems. Hawking is almost immobile, has a 24-hour personal-care attendant, and has barely intelligible speech. He communicates and writes books, scientific papers, and lectures by selecting words from a computer monitor with small hand, head, or eye movements and sending the text to a speech synthesizer.

"There was Hawking with ALS," Jacob said. "He could barely move and yet is one of the best thinkers on Earth."

Few college accommodations

Jacob is a native of Eau Claire, gateway to the resort areas of northwestern Wisconsin, thanks to its position at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. His mother and father both work at the university, their own alma mater. Dad is manager of technical services, and mom directs the academic skills center. In good weather, Jacob commutes the mile to campus with his motorized wheelchair, using a bike trail located less than a block from home. On other days, he shares a ride with another person.

The UW campus had been a familiar place since 7th grade, when Jacob attended the first of several Summer Science Institutes, two-week programs held for outstanding science students around the country. Continuing on as an undergraduate there was a natural, although Jacob did consider other colleges.

What accommodations did it take in lectures and laboratory sections?

"Actually, very few," Jacob said.

Classrooms are wheelchair-accessible. In laboratory sessions, students work in groups and share tasks. The students with more mobility handle setup and adjustment of instrumentation, for instance, while Jacob contributes brainwork. Courses like linear algebra, which involve plenty of proofs and equations, were a problem, because Jacob writes more slowly than other students. But there was a simple solution. Professors gave Jacob more time to get through exams and for note taking in class.

Students with disabilities who participate in an ENTRY POINT! internship reap many benefits in addition to the real-world, on-the-job experience that can jump-start a career. Some benefit by encountering new situations that never posed a problem in the past - and learning to adapt. For Jacob, that new problem was transportation.

The ENTRY POINT!/ACCESS internship meant that Jacob would travel halfway across the country to the NASA facility in Greenbelt, MD, and live on his own for the first time. Jacob shared an apartment and a personal-care attendant with Robert Hill, another participant profiled elsewhere in this book. The apartment was several miles away from the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Transportation equation

"It was the first time I hadn't been close to the place I needed to be every morning," he said. "At home, I lived close to the bike path and the university. Getting from point A to point B, from home to class, was not a big issue in my life. At NASA, I became aware of the logistics problem that faces everyone with limited mobility."

Jacob commuted to NASA by a wheelchair-accessible van. To get to Washington, DC, he used MetroRail, the commuter train system that serves Washington and the surrounding Maryland and Virginia areas. At the time, Jacob was considering several different graduate schools where he planned to get an advanced degree in physics. ENTRY POINT! made him add a new variable to the equation: transportation.

"I realized that it's not just the academics that a person with disabilities has to consider in selecting a university. There's a whole other side that you must consider when you're in a wheelchair. Logistical issues. Inadequate transportation can be a major inconvenience and a financial burden. Good transportation makes life so much easier."

Jacob also benefited from an earlier experience in a less-than-accommodating academic setting in 1998 while an exchange student in Australia. The Family and Medical Leave Act allowed his dad to take time off from work to accompany Jacob and act as a personal-care attendant. Jacob picked Australia partly because of the legislative environment. The Australian Disability Services Act of 1986, which affirmed that people with disabilities have the same rights as other members of society, included universities. The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 further detailed the obligations of universities.

Unexpected barriers

Yet he encountered unexpected barriers. Classrooms and lecture halls, for instance, were located on upper floors in buildings with no elevators or other locations inaccessible by wheelchair. Professors placed lecture handouts in inaccessible places. Books and other resource materials were on high shelves with no provision for access. Jacob filed a grievance with the university. Officials responded by acknowledging their responsibility for an accessible campus and held a special seminar to make professors and other teaching personnel more aware of the university's commitment to equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.

During the ENTRY POINT! internship, Jacob worked on a project that made good use of his undergraduate courses in physics and library science. He developed an engineering and technology web channel for Goddard's library. Jacob is considering a Ph.D. program in astronomy in Wisconsin or Minnesota after he completes graduate studies in library science at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

Photo of Jacob Gapko

Jacob Gapko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students with disabilities who participate in an ENTRY POINT! internship reap many benefits in addition to the real-world, on-the-job experience that can jump-start a career. Some benefit by encountering new situations that never posed a problem in the past - and learning to adapt. For Jacob, that new problem was transportation.


Miriam Rocke

What is intelligence? Is it more than just information processing? Does it take a mind to be intelligent? Or can we make computers that process information in an intelligent way without a biological mind? Just one minute, now. What is a mind? How does it differ from the information-processing network of neurons in the brain? Does a mind create consciousness? Can intelligence exist without consciousness? Can we create computer systems with a mind?

Meet Miriam Rocke, a young pioneer in an exciting new frontier of science grappling with these questions. It is, in effect, a science of mind, intelligence, and consciousness called symbolic systems. Computers, industrial robots, and people. They're all examples of symbolic systems because they rely on symbols to interact with the world. Computers use a digital language of 0s and 1s. Humans use conventional language.

Miriam is looking forward to exploring those ideas. She has earned an undergraduate degree in symbolic systems from Stanford University, despite a physical disability that began to limit her mobility at age 10.Perhaps it was, in some part, a childhood fascination with mathematics. Math, perhaps more than any other science, is an activity of the mind.

A geeky child

"I was a very geeky child," Miriam said. She grew up in Davis, CA, with her mother, Carrie, and father, David, a professor at the University of California at Davis whose research involves statistical analysis. "I didn't care about television very much except the math shows. Oh, I watched shows like the Electric Company. But it was the math programs that really got me. MathNet. And especially Square One. I'd sit in front of that screen and almost hold my breath in excitement."

Certain teachers solidified her interest. Miriam remembers, for instance, Miss Olsen, a 6th-grade teacher with whom she still keeps in touch. High school teachers of math, computer science, chemistry, and English were "just outstanding."

A number of out-of-school learning experiences made their contribution. As a junior in high school, for instance, Miriam was selected as one of about 60 students to participate in Boston University's Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS), which involves six weeks of rigorous experience in number theory, zeta and L-functions, and other topics. Symbolic systems is very much an interdisciplinary pursuit that draws heavily on insights from fields like philosophy and linguistics.

"I was geeky," Rocke noted, "but I ended up on the fuzzy side of techie. I have a lot of other interests." Some of those stemmed from childhood opportunities that further paved the way for her undergraduate major. She recalled summer learning experiences at language camps, for instance, studying German one year and Latin another. Other growing-up experiences included Girl Scouts, folk dancing, violin lessons, swim team, and horseback riding.

Life changes

Miriam's life began a gradual change at age 10, when she began to experience the first symptoms of what eventually was diagnosed as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). The medical term means "soft connective tissue that progressively turns to bone." In this rare genetic condition, which affects only about 2,500 people worldwide, the body makes extra bones in places where bone should not form. New bone develops, for instance, inside muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Bridges of out-of-place bone form across joints, causing stiffness and permanent immobility.

For Miriam, the first symptoms were inflamed, painful swellings in the shoulder and upper back areas and a severe contraction in her left hip. When the swellings went away, they left behind patches of mature bone. At first, the doctors thought it was a desmoid tumor, and it took about a year and a half to diagnose FOP. Flare-ups occurred periodically, leaving more and more out-of-place bone. Miriam's mobility became increasingly limited. At the beginning of college, she had regained a great deal of mobility by using a motorized wheelchair.

Stanford University

Miriam became a person with disabilities shortly after passage of the ADA, when society was still mobilizing to become more accessible. She became aware of disability rights legislation only during senior year in high school, and she did not recall specific instances in which she advocated for herself. "If there were disability-related issues in high school, my parents resolved them," Miriam said. Her parents' health insurance covered medical expenses and her custom-powered wheelchair.

During senior year in high school, she was accepted by several top universities, and finally chose Stanford University. The decision was based in large part on Stanford's spectrum of support services offered through its Disability Resource Center (DRC).

"The other schools had made their commitment to a barrier-free campus and were willing to help," Miriam said. "But some of them were clueless. They hadn't had much practice in working with students with disabilities. They didn't know what needed to be done, or how to do it."

At Stanford, Miriam settled into a wheelchair-accessible dormitory room. The DRC helped to schedule her classes, moved classes to barrier-free locations whenever necessary, provided note takers, and other services. The situation, of course, was not perfect, and Miriam helped identify ways to improve accessibility. The university installed a remote-controlled door opener for her dormitory building before she arrived.

Real-world work experience

Miriam first learned about ENTRY POINT! and the possibility of getting real, on-the-job work experience through the Stanford DRC. During one summer internship at the IBM facility in Santa Teresa, CA, Miriam helped to update databases and worked on a scripting language for mouse commands. Another IBM summer brought Miriam experience in developing interfaces that would allow use of web-based computer programs on desktop computers.

"The internship was valuable in a number of ways," Miriam said. "I thought it was especially important in learning how to work on a team. In college, there was a lot of emphasis on individual accomplishments. At IBM, I learned how individuals work together, contributing their own knowledge and skills to help the team achieve its goals."

After getting her degree from Stanford, Miriam began working on web design projects at the UC - Davis department of applied science. She is still exploring other horizons, including new career opportunities and possible graduate study in psychology.

Photo of Miriam Rocke

Miriam Rocke


William Staderman

"What else are your going to do if you don't return to school? "Sometimes a single question with an oh-so-obvious answer brings a complex situation into sharp focus. The mental light bulb glows. Your eyes close, and the palm of your hand touches your forehead in disbelief. Yeah, right! Why didn't I think of that? There really is only one road to take.

Such was the case with Bill Staderman. His dad, William Staderman, Sr., posed the question one Thanksgiving college vacation when Bill returned home to Brooklyn, struggling with the consequences of an accident that further challenged his mobility. It had been limited from childhood because of a rare hereditary condition called Friedreich's Ataxia (FA), which affects walking.

"I thought about it," Bill said. "What was I going to do with the rest of my life? And I realized the answer. Nothing. I had no plans. There was no option. The only choice was to adjust, persevere, and move on with my life."

Moving on paid off.

Bill looks forward to receiving a doctorate in human factors engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg in May 2002. Combine that with an undergraduate degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Purchase and a master's degree in philosophy and cognitive science from Binghamton University. With those academic credentials and critical real-world experience in ENTRY POINT! internships at NASA and IBM, he has a great career ahead of him!

Are you drunk?

Fifth grade brought the first hints of the condition that would change Bill's life. "I noticed a slowness in running and walking and a lack of skill in sports," Bill said. "Video games were the thing in those days when I was a kid, and I was never good at them. I could not press the buttons fast enough or move the joystick quick enough. As for my gait, it was slow and unsteady. I could not carry full glasses without spilling some of their contents. People who saw me walk thought I was drunk."

FA is a rare hereditary neurological disorder that affects speech, balance, and coordination. It occurs in about 1 in 50,000 people. Individuals with the condition wobble and stagger when they walk. It's often impossible to walk in a straight line. Older teenagers and adults also may experience slurred speech. Many are confronted in public by police officers and others with the question: "Are you drunk?" Individuals with FA often carry a physician's letter explaining the condition and verifying that they are not drunk. Most people with FA eventually use a walker, wheelchair, or scooter.

The Staderman family knew about the disease because one of Bill's two older sisters had been diagnosed. "I knew for a while that there was some sort of problem with my gait," Bill said. When my sister was diagnosed, I had a name for it. I was pretty sure that I had it too." By 7th grade, the symptoms were emerging more clearly, with Bill walking less steadily and his speech more slurred.

The diagnosis was confirmed when Bill was 15. He was aware that the condition would worsen with time. "I actually realized that I probably wouldn't be able to walk very much by the time I was in college."

One accident...

While at University of Massachusetts (UM) - Dartmouth from 1993 to 1995, Bill studied in a master's degree program in general and research psychology. It built upon the bachelor's degree in psychology. The topic was a childhood fascination since elementary school. How do people interact with the world around them? What motivates behavior? Why do some individuals excel and others fail? As teenagers, Bill and his best friend, Jimmy Gallagher, whose father was a clinical psychologist at the VA hospital in Brooklyn, NY, dreamed of careers that combined computer science and psychology to probe human behavior. Bill also got practical experience while working as a counselor at a summer camp for children with learning disabilities.

When Jimmy died at age 16 from brain cancer, Bill became more determined to pursue the dream.

"Jimmy and I didn't know how to put the two topics together," Bill said. "Computer science. Psychology. I realize now that I've been doing what he and I had planned to do all along." The road took that first unexpected twist during Bill's second month at UM - Dartmouth one Sunday night, when Bill was heading for a workout in the campus weight room. "I fell and broke a leg," Bill said. "I fell in a field in a sort of valley, so no one could hear me call for help. Somehow, I made my way out of the field and waited and waited. Someone found me about three and a half hours after the fall."

The realization came even as he lay there in pain: "I knew I wasn't going to be doing much walking ever again."

Bill was back in classes in a week, after surgery in which a metal rod was inserted to mend the broken bone. But he was in a wheelchair. By Thanksgiving vacation that 1994, Bill was depressed and discouraged. The abrupt transition from almost able-bodied to disabled. A decision to tough it out and make his own accommodations without using resources of the university's Disabled Student Services offices. Denial. Pain from the broken leg. Dad's question refocused Bill on the future.

...And another

After two years, he moved to the cognitive science graduate program at Binghamton University. There, Bill learned about a program that seemed like the perfect combination of psychology and computer science to fulfill his childhood dream. It was the Human Factors Engineering program at Virginia Tech. He applied and was accepted with an assistantship.

Joanne Staderman, Bill's mom, served as advance scout for Bill. She visited Blacksburg to check on wheelchair accessibility and other accommodations. Bill decided on an off-campus apartment that was wheelchair-accessible. Since 1995, he has used a manual wheelchair indoors and an electric scooter outside. Bill had to make several accommodations in that first apartment. They included railings on either side of the toilet, a shower chair, installation of a hand-held shower nozzle, and replacement of a cabinet-type bathroom vanity that made the sink inaccessible from Bill's wheelchair.

In the winter of 1997, fate put another unexpected challenge in Bill's path."I was in Blacksburg going from my physical therapist to my apartment. I had one street to cross, and it was one too many. It was near dusk at the time of the incident on Main Street. I was in the crosswalk where pedestrians have the right of way. A bunch of cars stopped and were waiting for me to cross and their headlights were on me."

But a car drove through the crosswalk, after apparently passing another vehicle on the right, and met Bill. It smashed into his scooter and threw him to the pavement with a broken leg, among other injuries. The driver said she never saw him. Surgery was needed to insert a metal rod into the broken femur, stabilizing it for healing. There was no cast, which would have made it impossible to operate a wheelchair or a scooter. Bill also had to cope with a life-threatening complication from a pulmonary embolism.

ENTRY POINT! beckons

His mother provided support again. She lived with Bill for about six weeks until he was fully recovered and ready to resume regular activities. During that time, she picked up a flyer describing the ENTRY POINT! program while in the office of Virginia Reilly, ADA coordinator at Virginia Tech. "The program looked cool," Bill said. "It was a simple application form, and the rest of the process was just the same.

I applied and got it." Thanks to ENTRY POINT!, Bill spent the summer of 1998 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the training and mission control headquarters for America's manned space program. Bill did research on the use of virtual reality technology to train astronauts for missions on the International Space Station and possible future expeditions to Mars.

In the summer of 1999, Bill landed another ENTRY POINT! internship with IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY. There, he helped develop procedures and user interfaces for configuring the server computers used by online retailers and other e-businesses. Bill got input from users and made recommendations to IBM programmers on software innovations that would be more user-friendly and efficient. During a third summer, 2000, Bill was back at NASA at the Ames facility in Mountain View, CA.

Bill expects his Ph.D. In May 2002. He is working on his dissertation part-time and has a part-time job with Psychometrix, a small company in Blacksburg. The work at Psychometrix involves models of individual differences (cognitive processes, affective biases, and personality traits) in simulated agents.

Photo of William Staderman

William Staderman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"ENTRY POINT! and ACCESS have given me an opportunity to see and work with things I never thought I'd get to," Bill said. "It also allowed me to experience different career options in different geographical areas of the country. I learned about a NASA program - the Graduate Students Researchers program - that is helping to pay part of my school costs. I have grown personally from my experience with ENTRY POINT! and ACCESS in terms of comfort with my disability and interpersonal skills."


Home | Site Map

Profiles: Assistive Technology | Persistence | Beyond All Expectations | Late Diagnosis | The Golden Door | Informal Science and Popular Culture | The Pinball Effect | Families

Additional Materials: The Roadmaps Game | Afterward | Students' Backgrounds | Assistive Technology | Notes on Disabilities | 1990s Profile of Students with Students in Higher Education | Acknowledgments | References

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