Students with Disabilities

Application Process

First off, we really want you to apply to this program.  If you are interested in the program, but you are not sure if you will be able to participate, please contact us.  If there is a barrier to your participation, we want to work with you to break that barrier down.  Even if you are almost certain that you cannot participate, contact us anyway. 

In your personal statement make sure you discuss your personal experiences with disability.  We want to hear your story and how it will enrich our program.

If You Are Selected

If you are selected to participate the program director will call you to welcome you to the program.  We will discuss options for transportation to the program, possible lab assignments, living arrangements, and getting around Cleveland.  You will have the option of speaking with our Office of Disability Services to discuss any needs you have. 

Typically we ask students to either accept or decline our offer within two weeks after we offer you a position.  We realize that it might take more than two weeks to figure out some of the details or participating, so do not worry about meeting this deadline.  We will hold your spot until you have all the information you need to make your decision. 

Once You Arrive

We will pick you up from the airport or meet you in front of your dorm if you choose to drive to Cleveland.  If you need a wheelchair accessible van or other alternative transportation, we will provide it for you.  One of our program directors, who is a physical therapist, will meet you and offer to help with your move in and in getting any extra assistive equipment.

On your first day you will have the option of going through your workspace with an assisitve technolgy expert from our Office of Disability Services.  We will pair you with a peer advocate who is another Cleveland State student.     


Ben - RE @CSU 2017 cohortstudent photo

I excitedly began planning and packing for the summer upon receiving my letter of acceptance to participate in the Research Experience at Cleveland State University Program (RE@CSU). I knew I would need to make extra preparations in order to to take care of all my personal needs independently. The summer in Cleveland would be my first time being apart from family since becoming paralyzed. CSU staff reached out to discuss my housing and any special requirements for my needs. All of the CSU staff anticipated many of my needs and worked collaboratively to ensure I had a positive experience. 

I could immediately tell it was going to be a great summer as soon as I arrived. The staff went out of their way to make sure my accomodations were accessible and that I wouldn’t have any trouble navigating the campus. I was one of twelve students selected to participate in the summer research experience. We had the opportunity to work closely with CSU graduate students on our various assigned projects. My specific project consisted of designing a control module for a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system, which is designed to stimulate mobility in atrophied muscles. The research environment was very collaborative.  I never felt awkward or singled out due to my disability. CSU ensured events were accessible and encouraged teams to work and play together. One of the participants came up with the idea that everyone should spend a day in a wheelchair, allowing them to experience the world of the disabled community they were working for. There were a variety of events and activities throughout the summer designed as team building and socializing opportunities. CSU campus is unique in that it is integrated with downtown Cleveland. One can easily walk, or roll, to the downtown district from campus in just a few minutes. My summer at CSU was a great learning opportunity and turned out to be very beneficial to my future goals. The program was well managed and the staff was amazing in every way. I highly recommend anyone pursuing an engineering degree, especially those directly affected by a disability, to consider the research experience for an internship.

Emily - RE @CSU 2018 cohort

2018 student

I am studying Biomedical Engineering with a Mechanical Concentration at Trine University. Being accepted to the Research Experience at Cleveland State University Program (RE@CSU) has been one of the highlights of my academic journey so far. There, I had the opportunity to support the graduate research of the Mechanics and Control of Living Systems Laboratory, under Dr. Jason Halloran, regarding the structural response of human knees. I wrote code in Python to collect and analyze data regarding knee ligament slack lengths due to registration error and later presented the findings at The 50th Annual 2018 BMES meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Outside of my daily work, I participated in career development activities such as the GoBabyGo program (modifying fisher price cars for toddlers with disabilities), doctorate level physical therapy courses, tours of the VA clinic, prosthetics lab, and cadaver lab, and more. This program greatly affected and benefited my career outlook for rehabilitation engineering. It exposed and introduced me to new ways engineering can be applied to healthcare and physical therapy applications. The experiences I gained from this program are still guiding my path toward my future goals today.

I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis (AMC) and use a power wheelchair among other accommodations. I knew moving to Cleveland for the summer was going to be a challenge, but through this program, many of my accommodations were met, allowing me to participate to my full potential. Handlebars were installed in the bathrooms, wheelchair accessible doors were installed, and modified housing was provided for my personal assistant and I. The faculty and peers I interacted with at CSU were amazing! They created an environment where it was easy for me to work independently and equally with others, and I never felt awkward or out of place because of my disability. Living on CSU’s campus, I was very close to the inner city and able to use my chair or accessible city transportation to explore downtown Cleveland and neighboring areas. I feel blessed to have been a part of this program and thankful for the cooperation surrounding my accommodations. The experience I gained was invaluable and has become a driving force as I look into my future career in rehabilitation engineering.

Simon - RE @CSU 2022 cohort

Simon - RE@ 2022 cohort

I first heard about this unique opportunity through Calvin University’s disability support office. Heading into the program, I was excited both to work with others who live with disabilities and to make a positive contribution to the disability community at large. Through this program, I came to realize that rehabilitation engineering is not only about finding ways to help people complete daily tasks, but also about working with individuals to help them achieve their dreams.

My experience at CSU was incredible! I was surrounded by the most diverse group of students I've ever been around and was overjoyed to live alongside my peers for ten weeks. This was especially nice after living through the 2020 pandemic. To note, I was not an engineering or computer science major. I majored in geology in college but was incredibly thankful to have this opportunity to explore an interest that I've always had. It was wonderful to work in the field of engineering and to think about ways that my work can positively impact the lives of others.

During my time at CSU, I was able to engage in weekly seminars to learn about disabilities, possible career paths, and various topics in engineering. One of the coolest parts of the experience was working alongside other people in a variety of disciplines. My team consisted of students and professors in both the engineering and physical therapy departments, and I loved learning from both fields. During my time at CSU, I was able to learn to code in multiple programing languages, develop circuits, and work on the design and development of a “smart walker.”

As a person with a disability (I have a form of cerebral palsy called right hemiplegia), I was challenged to think deeply about the way I live my life and how people perceive it. My peers were willing to dig deep in conversations to tell me how they understood cerebral palsy. It was also amazing to speak with fellow students who live with physical disabilities and to compare notes on our experiences and perspectives.

The faculty and peers were very accommodating to what I could and could not do. It took me a moment to grasp ways to build circuits with primarily one hand, but the process of learning the how to do it was enjoyable and rewarding. It was awesome being around amazing mentors and peers.

My time in Cleveland allowed me to explore the field of rehabilitation engineering while developing new friendships and exploring all that Cleveland has to offer. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is considering the field and especially to people living with disabilities who wish to explore a possible career in engineering.

Sierra - RE @CSU 2022 cohort

Sierra Andrews

During my time in the CSU REU program I assisted in working on a robotic assistive feeding device as well as doing research on what people who would use this device would want. I conducted a series of interviews and then spent the remainder of my time in the program transcribing and analyzing the data I collected.

Overall, it was an incredible experience that I would easily do again. In addition to the research and experience I gained I also met an incredible group of people who reintroduced me to the concept of slowing down and taking time to be happy right where you are at in life. I applied to the program on a whim and I am so incredibly glad I did. I would not be where I am and working in a neuroengineering lab as a lab assistant. The opportunities I was given because of this program have been incredible and I would encourage anyone who is considering to apply to it to do so.