2017 Design Challenge Finals Event


Register now: 2017 Design Challenge Finals Event.

About the Event

The SourceAmerica Design Challenge is a national engineering competition aimed at creating innovative workplace technology for people with disabilities. Student teams join forces with an individual with a disability to create a new product or process to enhance productivity or overcome workplace obstacles. The Design Challenge Finals Event is the last round of team competition.

The Design Challenge Finals take place April 5-7, 2017, at Embassy Suites Washington, D.C. This multi-day event includes student training, Capitol Hill visits and two public events.

About the Keynote Speaker:

Mark BarletWidely regarded as one of the leaders of 508 accessibility, Mark Barlet manages a team of high-end accessibility experts through his veteran-founded business, The Barlet Group and the AbleGamers. Throughout his long career, he has trained, assessed, managed and supported hundreds of people with disabilities. Mark founded AbleGamers, a nonprofit which gives people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, after multiple sclerosis attacked his best friend, nearly taking away her ability to interact. AbleGamers ensures that no one with a disability be denied the chance to participate in one of the world’s most popular pastimes — video gaming. In 2016, Mark and his AbleGamers partner, Steven Spohn, were invited to the White House to discuss accessibility and technology. Mark is one of the leaders in a global movement changing the way multi-billion-dollar companies, including Microsoft and yahoo, think about accessibility.

Agenda Overview

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 (Students and Coaches Only)
12:00 - 8:00 pm - Student Training and Dinner

Thursday, April 6, 2017 (Finalist Teams Only)
7:00 am to 8:00 am - Team Breakfast Provided
8:30 am to 5:00 pm - Team Practice Sessions
8:30 am to 5:00 pm - Capitol Hill Visits
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm - Design Challenge Reception (Public Event)

Friday, April 7, 2017 (Public Event)
8:00 am to 5:00 pm - Design Challenge Competition: The Finals
Please register to attend the finals event here.

Hotel and Transportation

Location: Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC Convention Center
900 10th Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20001

Hotel Information and Room Group Rate:
For guests wishing to stay at the hotel during the event please reserve your room here: https://aws.passkey.com/go/2017DCGuests

Valet parking only ($43)
Self-parking not available

Pet Policy
No pets are allowed except for service animals for persons with disabilities.

The Embassy Suites is a non-smoking hotel, and smoking is not permitted in any area of the hotel, including guest rooms, suites, public areas, restaurants and meeting/banquet rooms.

Area Airports
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Ground Transportation
The Embassy Suites is a 20-minute drive from Reagan National airport, a 45-minute drive from Dulles International airport and 60-minute Baltimore/Washington International airports. Shuttle and car services are available from these airports to the hotel.


Gloria Pualani
Gloria Pualani is the Corporate Director, Global Supplier Diversity/Government Relations for Northrop Grumman Corporation. Gloria is responsible for the direction, management and implementation of all socio-economic business programs. She uses her expertise to advance the course of small, women and minority-owned businesses in the aerospace industry, including advocating for increased business development opportunities for Ability One, veteran and service-disabled organizations, and small business firms. Gloria represents Northrop at various small business outreach events, federal procurement conferences and symposia. She has received several awards and commendations for her service.

Paul Nishman
Paul Nishman is a productivity engineer for SourceAmerica since 1978, and has held various engineering positions. Paul currently works with SourceAmerica-affiliated Community Rehabilitation Programs and their employees to make jobs more accessible and productive for people with disabilities. He focuses on the use of mobile technology to direct and redirect people with cognitive issues in their jobs. Paul has a Bachelor of Science degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Kevin Ryan
For more than a decade, Kevin Ryan has worked as a productivity engineer for SourceAmerica, where he helps people with disabilities succeed in the workplace. Prior to joining SourceAmerica, Kevin spent 20 years as an engineer and program manager for IBM and Micron Semiconductor. Kevin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University.

Mike Ryan
Mike Ryan graduated with high honors from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree. He held a number of managerial and technical positions at IBM, including production control, systems engineer, finance, business operations, global delivery services, and human resources. Mike retired from IBM in 2012 and has worked with the National Industries for the Blind. He is now a productivity engineer for SourceAmerica.

Casmir (Cas) Usiatynski
Cas Usiatynski is manager productivity engineer for SourceAmerica. He has more than 20 years of experience putting people who are blind and/or have significant and profound disabilities to work. He is highly effective at maximizing work potential through the use of assistive technology, assessment and training.

For general inquiries or questions, email Charissa Garcia, Design Challenge Coordinator, or call