Rehab Engineer and AT Consultant
Dianne started off on her own with a combination of service delivery work and a STAR Grant. In her client work, she assessed their needs, made recommendations for commercially-available equipment, recommended ergonomic workstations and chairs, and designed custom solutions. In addition, she developed AT resources and training in Northern Minnesota.
The STAR program of Minnesota funded two projects: accessible outdoor recreation and trail assessments; and job adaptations for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. Dianne hired others as needed to carry out the grant activities.
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For years, the BlueSky staff expanded and contracted based on grant funding. The staff would change too, in relation to the skills required–sewing tent prototypes, designing mechanisms in 3D, and programming microprocessors require very different skills.
As in her earlier work, when commercial solutions were not available, Dianne designed and built custom solutions. At times, she drew up plans and had others fabricate the designs, developing a network of resources. Through her years providing custom designs, she recognized recurring needs which couldn’t be met by existing assistive technologies–leading to ideas for future R&D.
Spurred on by her interest in accessible outdoor recreation, she received her first SBIR grant–to develop a more accessible tent. Additional SBIR grants and projects followed–supporting R&D in accessible mounting, powered mounting and positioning, and a watercraft transfer device. After years of surviving on Grant funds, BlueSky decided to look for alternatives and explore a mix of grant and product-based revenues.