After doing some independent research, Bharath Santosh and I (Eric Oswald) finally sat had our first official meeting. Basically I bought a DSP that would work perfectly for controlling the arm. We needed something that was real-time with a decent amount of hardware interrupts. The TI C2000 fit our specs very well. I bought the Launchpad for it because it was on sale for a good price so that's what we will be using as of now. However, upon installing the Code Composer Studio for the chip, we both ran into troubles. So as of now, neither of has gotten the TI software to work.
As far as the control system goes, we started discussing the types of sensors we will need to use to make sure this thing is safe. Since we are only focusing on one degree of freedom (the elbow) for this semester, we are thinking of just using a pot on the mechanical joint attached to the elbow as well as add flex and stretch sensors to a sleeve the user would wear under the arm itself. Something like an Under Armour sleeve perhaps.
Nick Avila wasn't able to show to the first meeting so we did't go into great detail on the mechanical system but since I am going to Maker Faire tomorrow, I thought I would talk to some of the makers that specialize in robotics and prosthetics and gain some insight.