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Co-op on display at RISE:2015

A photo of CSSH students Caroline Coughlin and Meghan Carroll talking about their research with President Aoun

Domestic and international co-ops inspired students in their research projects, several of which students presented at RISE:2015, Northeastern's research expo.

Each year I attend RISE, Northeastern’s annual research, inno­va­tion, and schol­ar­ship expo, I leave even more impressed with the high level and range of research hap­pening here. But this year, I’ve been thinking more about how many of the research projects pre­sented at the event stem in one way or another from stu­dents’ expe­ri­en­tial learning opportunities—particularly co-​​op.

Take the Col­lege of Engi­neering senior cap­stone team that devel­oped the Intel­li­gent Vir­tual Reality Aug­mented Cycling Kit, or iVRACK, after rec­og­nizing a need for a more quan­tifi­able way to mea­sure post-​​stroke vic­tims’ phys­ical therapy suc­cess. One of those stu­dents, Ben­jamin Rus­sell, E’15, noted how he used skills he learned from a product devel­op­ment co-​​op at Boston Device Devel­op­ment to help create pedals that attach to a sta­tionary bike and mea­sure a patient’s force and angle as he works the foot-​​operated levers. Rus­sell said the team got good results during lab tests and hopes iVRACK could someday be uti­lized in out­pa­tient facilities.

Another engi­neering cap­stone team pre­senting at RISE—and which I pro­filed recently—developed the “farm arm,” a pros­thetic limb designed to help amputee agri­cul­tural workers operate trac­tors. All five stu­dents drew from their co-​​ops for this project.

Polit­ical sci­ence major Car­o­line Coughlin, SSH’16, and Megan Car­roll, SSH’15, a com­bined major in inter­na­tional affairs and eco­nomics, pre­sented a com­par­a­tive case study of inde­pen­dence move­ments in Scot­land and Cat­alonia. They noted that these seces­sion move­ments are quite dif­ferent, despite the fact that both the media and acad­emia char­ac­terize them as sim­ilar. They also found that the evo­lu­tions of those move­ments were heavily influ­enced by the state responses to them.

For their project, they drew upon their inter­na­tional co-​​op expe­ri­ences, as well as addi­tional research. Coughlin worked on co-​​op for Jackie Baillie, a member of the Scot­tish Labour Party in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment. She was able to directly cam­paign (for the “Better Together” or “no” cam­paign) in the ref­er­endum, as well as do research and write speeches for use in Par­lia­men­tary debates. Car­roll, for her part, worked at the Catalan National Assembly in Barcelona, which is the leading civil society orga­ni­za­tion pro­moting Catalan inde­pen­dence from Spain. “Com­paring our opin­ions and expe­ri­ences gave us the idea for this project,” Car­roll said.

In our story on RISE:2015, we noted the cyber­se­cu­rity research project pre­sented by Neel Shah, E’15, and Tushar Swamy, E/S’15. But one thing we didn’t men­tion was that Shah’s co-​​op at Mitre Cor­po­ra­tion, a non­profit that oper­ates research and devel­op­ment cen­ters spon­sored by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, served as the inspi­ra­tion for his project. Upon returning to campus, he sought out research oppor­tu­ni­ties in Internet archi­tec­ture and security.

Ditto for his­tory major Martha Pearson, SSH’15, whose co-​​op at the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Archives inspired her research project to explore the inter­play between edu­ca­tion civil rights in Boston and busing desegregation.

And if those aren’t enough exam­ples of how co-​​op influ­enced the projects on dis­play at RISE, how about archi­tec­ture stu­dent Christina Dadona, AMD’16, who returned to campus from co-​​op in Wash­ington this semester to present her research exam­ining oppor­tu­ni­ties to stitch together the urban fabric of East Boston.

-By Greg St. Martin and originally posted in Northeastern’s Research Blog, iNSolution.

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