About Joe Olson, the engineer and designer of ErgoJoystick, an innovative wheelchair joystick handle. Blog
Joe Olson grew up in the land of ice and snow in Marquette, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior. In 1999, Joe broke his neck in a diving accident one week before graduating from high school. His injury level was C4-5 (he currently functions as a weak C5-6). Prior to the accident, he was planning to attend Michigan Technological University to study Mechanical Engineering. Instead of spending the summer before his freshman year of college roadtripping across the nation, he spent it at Craig Hospital in Colorado for spinal cord rehabilitation. While he was there, he quickly became disappointed with the quality of the available assistive technology, despite the fact that he was in a state-of-the-art medical facility. It was then that Joe realized he could help many people, including himself, by designing more effective and user-friendly adaptive equipment.
Joe received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University in 2004, moving on to earn a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. In Pittsburgh he worked as a graduate student at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories under the direction of Rory Cooper, where he earned the skills needed to actually build what he only could draw and imagine before. At graduation Joe was poised to take the assistive technology world by storm. However, the economy had other plans for Joe, who was ready for a real job and offers, yet positions disappeared around him. In time, Joe received an offer as a facilities engineer in Maryland.
The Beginnings of Roll Geek LLC
by Joe Olson
In August 2013 I got bored. Not just regular bored, but the type that makes everything you do seem dull. I had a real job. I had friends. I had plans for the weekend. I could pay rent. I was healthy. I was a successful adult by societal standards, yet I was bored.
I needed to do what I actualy enjoyed doing. I have designed a few things that make my life just a little easier. I realized that if nobody had access to these inventions, I was not helping anybody. Those who could benefit from my design could not get one if they were not being sold. With the realization that nobody would bring this wheelchair joystick handle to those who need it, I had to do it myself.
My mission has come full circle as I am now making and selling Assistive technology. I do not want to sell the same stuff that made me frustrated 14 years ago. And this is where you come in. I want you to be my collaborator. A piece of technology is not about what someone else thinks you need or how they think you would use it. Its about how you use it and how you feel about it. When you open the box, it is now yours. I want you to share your personal story, what led you here, and what happened when the ErgoJoystick became yours.
Joe Olson and Jack Alger filming the ErgoJoystick promotional video at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland.
Get in touch with us! We need you to test-drive the lastest ErgoJoystick designs! If this opportunity sounds right for you, email Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT Joe Olson at email@example.com
Check out the following links for coverage of the ergojoystick from around the web!
New Mobility- the magazine of the National Spinal Cord Injury Associsation
Ignite Baltimore- presentation from fall 2014.
Makezine~ a site and magazine for the maker movement
Makezine.jp~ the same thing if your first language is Japanese
Hash It Out With Jane~ progressive podcast
Facets~ University of Pittsburgh SHRS magazine (spring 2014 pg. 23)
Blue Badge Style~ a british ability related style site -Yeah Baby!
Blog post~ from a satisfied ergojoystick user
The Mobility Resource~ Assistive Technology blog
if you find anything I've missed please let me know!