UA EcoCAR 3 Celebrates STEM Education and Diversity

Hispanic Heritage Month is nationally celebrated during the month of October. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Hispanics make up eight percent of those awarded with certificates and degrees in STEM programs and less than two percent of the STEM workforce consists of people from Hispanic origin. Although the Hispanic heritage is considered underrepresented in STEM programs, many people of Hispanic descent are making waves in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics such as Helen Ocho the first Hispanic female astronaut or Mario Mollina a renowned chemist. During the month of October the UA EcoCAR 3 team had the honor of highlighting the career of an esteemed STEM legend, Dr. José Hernández-Rebollar.

Hernández-Rebollar was born in Puebla, Mexico in 1969. He received his undergraduate degree in electronics from Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in 1993 and his masters in electronics engineering from Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Optica y Electrónica in 1997. In 1998 Hernández-Rebollar came to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. At George Washington, he majored in signals and systems, minoring in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and bioelectronics. He earned his Ph.D. in Science in Electrical Engineering from George Washington in 2003.

While studying at George Washington he received funding for researching and inventing a program to turn sign language into spoken word. By 2003, he created the AcceleGlove. The AcceleGlove translate movements from American Sign Language to spoken words. The AcceleGlove is a glove, placed and strapped onto the arm. By analyzing signals from the hands movement, orientation and position, the system recognizes the sign and speaks the corresponding word.

Since 2003, the use of AcceleGlove has expanded. Along with vocalizing sign language, the glove now helps soldiers communicate silently in the field. The glove could connect a soldier or team to a support drone which would facilitate silent commands between the two. This interaction would allow the soldier to direct the drone to stay high or low or to move a certain way to avoid gunfire.

With countless uses, the AcceleGlove helped open the door to a new generation of communication. Hernández-Rebollar’s invention currently assists over 26 million Americans who are hearing impaired and is even being used in other fields. As a team, UA EcoCAR 3 salutes Mr. Hernandez-Rebollar for his efforts and contributions to society.