7 Extraordinary Engineers with visual impairments
Visual impairment is often seen as a debilitating condition that could limit or even prevent an individual from reaching their full potential or competing in certain domains. This couldn’t be further from the truth as people have always displayed their resilience, determination, and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. In honour of World Sight Day 2022, let’s take a look at seven spectacular individuals in the engineering field who have innovated and excelled despite their visual impairments.
With over 22 inventions linked to his name, and countless more pending, Mohannad Jibreel Abudayyah has established himself as a leading inventor and pioneer in the engineering environment.
Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Mohannad’s fascination with science and engineering began when he was a young boy. His curiosity motivated him to pursue a career in robotics and engineering so that he could accomplish his goal of becoming an inventor.
Now, as a student at the Dhahran’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Mohannad is realizing his childhood dreams. Most recently Mohannad has revealed that he is developing a new type of deep-diving submarine called the “Falcon of Arabism ” that has already broken the world diving barrier for depth over 6525 meters under the water.
Banding together through shared adversity and a mutual passion for innovation, James Teh and Michael Curran used their qualifications and experience in computer engineering to develop software that would improve the lives of visually impaired people all over the globe.
Navigating life with visual impairment, both Teh and Curran deeply understood the challenges that people with visual impairment encounter on a daily basis. This shared experience motivated the duo to create high quality computer software that would assist visually impaired computer users.
Their software, called Non-visual Desktop Access (NVDA) aims to empower the visually impaired by making computers user friendly and easily accessible. Since its development NVDA has partnered with tech companies like Mozilla, Microsoft and Google while being translated into more than 55 languages to assist people all over the world.
Defying odds and expectations, Marco Midon has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the engineering environment. Born prematurely in a rural hospital in New Mexico, Marco and his twin brother, Raul, experienced permanent damage to their vision because of a lack of eye protection whilst placed in incubators as infants.
Growing up with visual impairment however didn’t hinder Marco from dreaming big and reaching his goal of pursuing a career in engineering. Today Midon has accomplished his goals, operating as a highly successful electrical engineer, and leading a team of engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre
One of Midon’s most impressive projects is known as the “egg beater”. The Egg Beater can be described as an 18-meter antenna designed for the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Its purpose is to transmit a terabyte of imagery and data on the sun’s interior each day.
Proving herself to be a jack of all trades, Patricia Walsh seems to possess an array of diverse talents. With various achievements behind, Walsh continues to inspire and motivate those around her.
Living with visual impairment since the age of 14, Walsh has not allowed her circumstances to govern her life or limit her opportunities. Walsh has excelled academically, earning her undergraduate degree in computer science and electrical engineering from Oregon State University. She has additionally challenged herself physically in the sport of running, competing in triathlons and other running events across the globe.
Today Patricia Walsh focuses on empowering others by sharing her story with the world. She hosts motivational workshops to guide and inspire people and has even released a book titled ‘Blind Ambition: How to Envision Your Limitless Potential and Achieve the Success You Want’.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Nathanael Wales has always expressed an interest in engineering and design. Building things with Legos and designing his own miniature cities with drafting paper and crayons, Wales knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in civil engineering.
Born with a visual impairment, Wales has established himself as an academic, a professional, and an inspiration to both the visually impaired and the visually abled. Graduating from the university of California with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering, Wales has accomplished his dream of doing what he loves: planning, designing, and creating great infrastructure.
Today, Wales works as a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. His current work involves planning projects to prevent flooding and soil erosion along the shoreline of Long Island and northern New Jersey. His objective is to protect the cities from potential damages and collapse while also improving the harbor navigation channels and stream banks.
Graduating from the Polytechnic University of Milan with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, Marco Casadei is only just getting started. It seems that Marco refuses to let his visual impairment stop him from achieving his goals.
Born with a condition called bilateral congenital glaucoma, Marco has struggled with his vision since infancy. Despite the limitations and multiple surgeries throughout his life, Marco does not let it demotivate him from achieving his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.
Marco managed to defy the odds by completing his degree with a grade of 100/110 as the first ever blind aerospace engineer graduate from the Politecnico di Milano. Marco has also displayed incredible talent in the game of chess, having competed in the Paralympics in India in 2012, in North Macedonia in 2017 and in Greece in 2021.