Training Guidelines

Technical Skills | Person-Centered Skills | Research Skills | Leadership Skills | Innovation Skills | Communication Skills

Each trainee will have an advisory team including a primary/research mentor, a clinical mentor, and an external mentor. The primary mentor will supervise the day-to-day activities of the trainees and oversee the implementation of the training plan. The clinical mentor will provide clinical guidance relevant to the trainee’s research projects and oversee their performance in clinical settings. The external mentor (outside Pitt) will provide guidance related to career preparation. The trainee will work with the primary mentor to identify a clinical mentor and an external mentor. The trainee is responsible to communicate with his/her advisory team on a regular basis and will be asked to describe their interactions with the advisory team in their progress reports.

The training activities in the CAESOR program are designed to facilitate the trainees to develop their skills and competencies in six key areas including technical, person-centered (clinical and psychosocial), research, innovation, leadership, and communication/professional development skills.

Technical Skills

Despite the strong technical skills developed during the PhD pursuit, the trainees may need to further develop their technical skills relevant to their research projects through additional coursework. They will need to work with their primary mentors to identify appropriate coursework offered at Pitt or Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). 

Person-Centered Skills

The trainees in the CAESOR program are unlikely to have previous formal exposure to disability and rehabilitation. Thus it is critical to provide mentored clinical experience so that the trainees will have a first-hand understanding of user needs, clinical decision-making processes, and contextual constraints of technological innovation. The trainees will be required to work with their clinical mentors to identify a clinical setting and shadow a clinician for 120 hours per year, to identify appropriate coursework. They will also need to have 30 hours practicum experience per year when they volunteer for community-based events organized by disability groups and organizations.  

Research Skills

The trainees are expected to spend the majority of their time (minimum 70% research effort) in research. They are expected to produce at least one conference paper and one journal paper per year and present their research at regional, national, or international workshops or conferences. They are also expected to submit a career development grant application a government agency or non-profit organization such as NIH, NIDRR (Switzer Fellowship), DOD, NSF, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and Craig Neilson Foundation by the mid of their second year training. The trainees are also encouraged to assist their mentors in preparing grant applications and seek out other small grant application opportunities.

In addition to working on the research projects, the trainees will work with their primary mentors to identify appropriate coursework or workshops to enhance their research skills. For example, they could obtain explicit training in critical reading of the research literature in their area of interest through participation in the AT Journal Club, and receive grantsmanship training by attending internal and external grant writing workshops.

Leadership Skills

The trainees will be asked to help their mentors advise graduate students. In addition, they will be asked to serve as independent mentors to the undergraduate interns and serve in the admission committee for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs.

Innovation Skills

The trainees will be introduced to entrepreneurship and commercialization through our “Technology Innovations for Person With Disabilities (TIPeD)” program where they will work with business students and undergraduate interns to develop SBIR or STTR proposals intended for submission to federal agencies (e.g., NSF, NIH, and NIDRR). In addition, we will encourage the trainees to participate in innovation related workshops and competitions at Pitt and CMU.

Communication/Professional Development Skills

The trainees will be introduced to career workshops offered by the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs at Pitt and by program faculty.  For trainees who are interested in a faculty position, they will be arranged to co-teach a graduate-level course with senior instructors during the 2nd year of their training. They will also be introduced to instructional services provided by the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education at Pitt, including teaching workshops and individual consultations.

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