Family affair

Chittenden Symposium is truly a family affair

image: Bill and Carol Chittenden, centre, were big supporters of AHS and ISE
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The theme for the 2022 Chittenden Symposium is Human Factors for Health Technologies. But the heart of the event is really a love story.

The Chittenden Symposium, which returns in 2022 after a five-year hiatus, is a collaboration of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health (College of Applied Health Sciences) and the Department of Industrial and Business Systems Engineering (The Grainger College of Engineering).

The symposium is the vision of William and Carol Chittenden, who have long supported research combining engineering technology and health, including aging and quality of life issues later in the year. For the Chittendens, their support for the University of Illinois grew out of their experiences on campus. William, a member of the College of Engineering Hall of Fame, graduated from the College of Engineering in 1951. While on the Urbana-Champaign campus, he met Carol, a kinesiology major. It was the beginning of a life of love that lasted over 65 years.

“I think they just felt that college had added so much to their lives that they wanted to give back, pay it forward,” said Bill Chittenden III, William and Carol’s son. “And that’s how (their support for Illinois) started.

The idea of ​​supporting KCH and ISE made perfect sense, Bill said, given his father’s engineering expertise and his mother’s education in kinesiology.

“I think it really started when my dad was supporting engineering school,” he said. “And then my mother, given her degree, wanted to help her college. And then, at some point, they thought they could have a greater impact by combining their resources to develop and support interdisciplinary work between these colleges.

“When it comes to health sciences, my mother was really fascinated by the human body. Her detailed knowledge of human anatomy, which she learned in Illinois, was often a topic of conversation. I think that was the impetus to focus on applied health sciences.

Bill said the symposium had another goal: to provide students and faculty with an opportunity to further develop and use their communication skills.

“It had a lot to do with my father’s belief in the importance of strong communication skills. He was a great writer and speaker, things you don’t always find in technical fields,” Bill said. “It was important to him that engineers and people with other technical backgrounds were good writers and speakers, so that they were able to communicate technical topics and ideas effectively to a wider audience. The interdisciplinary nature of the symposium is designed to encourage people to hear different perspectives.

These different perspectives will be fully exposed at this year’s symposium. It is headlined by keynote speaker Emily Patterson, a professor at Ohio State University. Dr. Patterson’s topic is “Enhancing Innovation by Integrating Human Factors Engineering into Allied Health Research”.

Four faculty members will give presentations, including two from KCH and two from ISE.

  • Abigail Wooldridge, ISE: Designing digital health to support care transitions in hospitals
  • Manuel Hernández, KCH: Advances in Wearable Technology for Fall Prevention
  • Avinash Gupta, ISE: Role of Human-Computer Interaction in the Design of Extended Reality (XR) Based Training Environments in Healthcare
  • Ken Wilund (KCH): Technology Applications to Promote Behavioral Change in Hemodialysis Patients

A discussion will follow the presentations, and then attendees will have the opportunity to tour the McKechnie Family LIFE home, which Bill Chittenden said he is looking forward to seeing. Led by Dr. Wendy Rogers, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, the McKechnie Family LIFE House includes a simulation of a two-bedroom house with garage where research and development will take place, as well as meeting spaces and desk to support research activities.

For the Chittendens, the symposium is just one of the opportunities they have created through their more than 30 years of support for the University. They created the Carol Chittenden Scholarship, awarded annually to an undergraduate student in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health; and the William Chittenden Scholarship, awarded annually to a graduate student in industrial and business systems engineering. They also sponsor an award for the best graduate thesis in engineering and applied health sciences.

Now, they hope that this event will become a source of inspiration for participants that will lead to solutions to problems. “The main objective is to inspire participants, to bring people together to exchange ideas, to see what others are working on and to make connections on the ground. You inspire people to think about how they can make a difference and you get new ideas on how to do it. Technology is changing so fast. And I think the goal of the symposium and the financial support is really to advance the technology and the benefits it brings even faster.

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