Reimagining Accessibility After Losing a Limb

Dr. Albert Lin and Dr. Ramesh Rao
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Learn how Dr. Albert Lin collaborated with his mentor Dr. Ramesh to transform a personal tragedy into a viable solution for more than 40 million amputees. INK talks played a major role. Listen on 

Today, the majority of the world’s 40 million amputees live without access to a prosthesis. Albert Lin, a materials scientist and researcher with the Qualcomm Institute (QI) at UC San Diego, has created a project to change that.

With the help of students and multidisciplinary experts at QI, Lin launched “Project Lim[b]itless,” an initiative that leverages cellphone and 3D printing technology to significantly reduce the cost and time it takes to produce the custom sockets of a prosthetic limb. The team’s ultimate goal is to make prostheses more accessible, particularly for people in rural communities and developing countries.

For Lin, helping amputees regain their mobility and re-master the physicality of life is very personal. In 2016, he lost his right leg below the knee to a vehicle accident. With the help of state-of-the-art prosthetic shaping, Lin has been able to maintain an incredibly active lifestyle and pursue dream projects across the globe.

Dr. Ramesh R. Rao

Dr. Rao has been a faculty member at UC San Diego since 1984, and Director of the Qualcomm Institute, UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), since 2001. He holds the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Telecommunications and Information Technologies in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD, and is a member of the school’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

Prior to QI (Calit2), Professor Rao served as the Director of UCSD’s Center for Wireless Communications (CWC). Dr. Rao is involved on a day-to-day basis with a wide variety of research initiatives at QI. He leads several major interdisciplinary and collaborative projects and has been a PI on dozens of federal-, state-, foundation- and industry-funded grants. Dr. Rao is an IEEE Fellow and Senior Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. He was named a Member of the Board of the Academy of Neurosciences for Architecture, a Member of the Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center Board IT Task Force and serves on the Board of Directors of CONNECT. Dr. Rao has been a long time member of the San Diego Indian American Society and currently serves as the Vice President for the Board of Governors.

Dr. Rao earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1984, after receiving his M.S. from the same institution in 1982. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Madras (the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli). Dr. Rao received the distinguished alumnus award from the National Institute of Technology in 2010, the ECE Distinguished alumni award from the University of Maryland in 2012, the Professional Gordon Engineering Leadership Award from UCSD’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Center in 2010. He also received the 2011 Casa Familiar Abrazo Award for engagement with underprivileged area of San Diego.

Albert Yu-Min Lin

Dr. Lin is an award winning scientist, technologist, explorer, and adventurer with a knack for storytelling both on stage and the big screen. As a problem solver, he has reinvented how we explore and has made headlines around the world for his expansive work combining technology with exploration. His projects range from an effort to search for the tomb of Genghis Khan in Mongolia (using satellites, crowdsourcing, drones, and ground penetrating radar) to expeditions remapping major sites in China and Guatemala (using satellites and Lidar) to his most recent efforts to redefine human bionic capabilities with bio-monitors and 'flow' experiments.
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