High School and College Finalists Announced for SourceAmerica Design Challenge Competition

February 14, 2017

Students enhance businesses through assistive workplace technology for people with disabilities

VIENNA, Va. – Think high school students could revolutionize business productivity by 750 percent, or college students could build technology that puts more people to work? These success stories are happening across the country in a neighborhood near you.

Through SourceAmerica’s Design Challenge, a national engineering competition benefiting people with disabilities, students are proving how assistive workplace technology can make a big impact on those who need it most. The semester-long competition kicked off last fall with 160 registered teams. Students worked with businesses that had obstacles to full productivity for their employees with disabilities. Following meetings with management, they spent time getting to know the employees and assessing how the process could be tweaked to provide better outcomes. This discovery process was critical to designing a solution that was both user-friendly and achieved results. As a final step, teams submitted a final paper and video about their Design Challenge journeys.

Using science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, the Design Challenge shows students how they can be a catalyst to improve someone’s productivity, efficiency and success in the workplace. The service learning component gives students a window into SourceAmerica’s nonprofit agency mission: to create employment opportunities and choices for people with significant disabilities. What's more, knowing how to build an inclusive workplace is a lesson they can implement as future business leaders.

Announced today, five high school and three college teams will be advancing to the Design Challenge finals on April 7 in Washington, D.C.

High School Finalists

Concord High School (Wilmington, Delaware)
Organization served: Waggies by Maggie & Friends (Wilmington, Delaware)
Project: The Weigh Master is an interactive device that helped employees with disabilities weigh dog treat products produced by the nonprofit agency. With a large, color-coded computer screen to indicate proper weight, employees can more easily and efficiently complete the assembly process.

Copley High School – Team #1616 (Copley, Ohio)
Organization served: Weaver SecurShred, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (Akron, Ohio)
Project: The TRIPS device increased the efficiency and production of employees with disabilities who completed paper shredding. Shredding time for one roll of paper decreased from 5 minutes to 12 seconds, and total production increased by 750 percent.

Copley High School – Team #1617 (Copley, Ohio)
Organization served: Weaver Industries ProPak, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (Akron, Ohio)
Project: The Delta Snap broadened the number of employees with disabilities that could assemble grinder caps from 25 percent to 100 percent. The device automated the process while making it more ergonomic.

Olathe East High School (Olathe, Kansas)
Organization served: Shawnee Mission Northwest High School (Shawnee, Kansas)
Project: The B.O.S. (Best Overall Solution) is a portable wheelchair desk and cart designed for a high school teacher with multiple sclerosis. The cart’s capabilities enable the teacher to now travel independently, without help, while storing heavy books and materials.

Wethersfield High School (Wethersfield, Connecticut)
Organization served: CW Resources, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (New Britain, Connecticut)
Project: Flag 2.0 is a motorized device that helped an employee with disabilities properly label envelopes. A laser light built into the device determines label positioning and a user-controlled button advances the roll to the next label when pressed.

College Finalists

California State University Los Angeles
Organization served: FVO Solutions, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (Pasadena, California)
Project: The Lean Master reformatted the fabrication process of a two-hole puncher for employees with disabilities so it adhered to the 5S model (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain). Additionally, production cycle time was reduced by 50 percent and physical discomfort for employees was eliminated.

Lawrence Technological University (Southfield, Michigan)
Organization served: Services to Enhance Potential, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (Livonia, Michigan)
Project: The Spray Bottle Assembly Device features a hand press that reduced physical discomfort of employees with disabilities assembling spray bottles. For employees with dexterity issues, the new device enabled them to complete the process with a single hand, resulting in increased productivity, efficiency and comfort.

Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)
Organization served: SW Resources, SourceAmerica network member nonprofit agency (Parkersburg, West Virginia)
Project: Say Yes to the Press is a simple, user-friendly hand press for employees with disabilities who assemble adapters used in soda fountain machines. Whereas the previous assembly process was too challenging for most employees to complete, all employees can use the new device without experiencing repeat stress on the hands.

For more information or to schedule an interview about the Design Challenge, contact Theresa O’Neill or 703-584-3965.

Visit http://www.sourceamerica.org/design-challenge and follow SourceAmerica on Facebook and Twitter.