How One Veteran Engineer is Empowering the Disability Community with Assistive Technology

How One Veteran Engineer is Empowering the Disability Community with Assistive Technology

July 2, 2018 12:00 pm Published by

One aspect of independent living we like to focus on is assistive and adaptive technology. As accessibility awareness grows both in cities and on the web, it’s important to incorporate and integrate the proper technology. There are many people the world over who are looking to improve inclusion and accessibility for all. One person whom we’d like to highlight is Matt Landis, a military veteran-turned-engineer. Continue on to read his story and how he’s working to make a more accessible world for all:

Matt’s Military History

Matt Landis was an Apache helicopter pilot serving in Iraq. During his second tour of Iraq, he was shot down and crash-landed. He suffered from post-concussion syndrome and was promptly discharged following his diagnosis. He returned home to his family – wife Tiff and his three children – in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon his return, he felt somewhat lost; the change was so sudden and he was still suffering from his condition. Serving in the military runs in Matt’s family. However, he didn’t know how to live life as a veteran…

Where to Go from Here

Before Matt enlisted in the military, his talents lay in math and physics. After his return home, he decided to try again his hand at math and looked to getting a degree in physics. Because of his condition, though, he struggled with the advanced concepts and calculations. He decided to go the Billy Madison route and went back to learning the basics – elementary school math like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – just to get his bearings. He taught himself new approaches to math that he could understand. Soon after, he enrolled in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied engineering. He hoped that he could apply his knowledge to helping veterans and individuals with disabilities – all three of his children are on the autism spectrum, and his son, Tristan, is nonverbal.

Involvement with the Disability Community

In his studies, Matt showed interest in rehabilitation engineering. This field aims to help people with disabilities live independently by developing assistive technologies to help them do so. Thus, Matt began working at the Human Engineering Research Lab (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh. There, engineers work to empower individuals with disabilities by developing technologies that allow them to live fully independent lives. For example, he and the team are working on a wheelchair that can climb curbs where there is no curb cut, a wheelchair that can lift the user to the bed or toilet, and a robotic arm that is strong enough to open doors, but which is delicate enough to hold an egg. Matt is developing software for these technologies at HERL. In doing so, he brought his computer expertise to HERL and standardized their computing methods to remove the barrier that once existed.


For Matt, his service didn’t end when he got home. He believes that service doesn’t end after the military, it just changes. At ILCNSCA, we believe strongly in the empowerment of individuals with disabilities. To learn about Matt’s full story, click the following link: For all your disability and independent living needs, contact ILCNSCA by phone at 978-741-0077, or visit our website at

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This post was written by Sperling

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