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The High School Design Challenge offers high school students an exciting opportunity to develop real-life engineering solutions that benefit people with disabilities in their community. Finalists in this national engineering competition are eligible for various prizes, including a trip to Washington, DC, for the finals event.

  • Each team must develop a piece of technology and/or a process designed to overcome a workplace obstacle for a person with a disability.
  • Your invention or process must be tested, used by your subject matter expert (SME) and implemented in the workplace. Projects must be workplace/employment-related or they will be disqualified.
  • Your team must include a student leader, student team members, a coach and an SME. The SME is the person with a disability who will use your invention.
  • Your project must include a video, technical paper with 3D models, worksheets and additional paperwork. All items are mandatory and must be uploaded to your team's Egnyte folder. The "Complete Requirements" and competition rules are available for download after registration and will provide details on each of these items. 
  • Each student team must register on the SourceAmerica Design Challenge website.
  • The student team leader must register for the Design Challenge. After registering, the student team leader will receive a team login and password for our file-sharing system, Egnyte. This will allow teams to download the "Complete Requirements" and upload documents and project materials at the appropriate deadlines. The file-sharing system can be found at:
  • Each team and the coach will have access to the team's folder. Coaches with multiple teams will have access to folders for all their teams; however, each team leader will only have access to his or her team's folder.
  • To start your project, use your team's information to log into the Egnyte portal, download the required forms from the "Information" folder and upload the completed forms to your team folder.
  • High school teams must be composed of high school students. However, students do not have to be enrolled in the same school. Home-schooled teams and community clubs are encouraged to participate.
  • Your project must include a video, technical paper and any additional paperwork. All items are mandatory and must be uploaded to your team’s Egnyte folder.
  • Items required for project submission include:
    1. A brief project summary that may be published in the event program, press releases or other event marketing/communications materials.
      • For example, "The Lincoln High School teams partnered with Nonprofit Inc. to build a towel-folding device. The device, called ‘Corners Connected,’ cut towel-folding time in half. Employees at Nonprofit Inc. have shown improvements in process time and stress reduction, as well as increased wages."
    2. Authors' Agreement: One agreement per team is required and should list all team members.
    3. Post-Project Survey: All student team members must participate in the survey.
    4. Updated Team Roster: This will determine who will receive prizes, so accurate contact information is a must. Please include contact information for your SME and/or nonprofit agency. This information will be used for an interview, if necessary.
    5. Technical Paper: The following guidelines provide basic information about format and style for your technical papers. Authors should refer to accepted style guides for additional assistance.
      • Overall length: Two to 10 pages (including inset images and cover page), single spaced
      • File Format: .pdf or .doc
      • Columns: Single column throughout paper
      • Font: Times New Roman, Size 12
      • Margins: One inch all the way around
      • Title Page: Include authors’ names and the link to your project video
      • Running Header: Include a header on each page with your team ID and title of your project
      • General Style: Please choose from MLA, APA or ASME for style guidelines
      • Required Sections: Title, Abstract, Statement of Problem, Background, Rationale, Development, Final Design, Cost Analysis, Testing Procedure and Results, Community Impact, Conclusion, References and Acknowledgements
      • Graphics: Must be compressed and embedded into the paper and must use alternative text. In other words, images inserted into your presentation must be accessible to audience members who cannot see.
      • Please do not include video links in the body of the paper. The paper should stand alone as its own documentation of the invention. Please include your video link on the cover sheet only.
    6. 3D Model Drawings: The 3D model must be shown using drawings that will be included in your project submission. Include dimensioned drawings of each part in your model and an assembly of your model if necessary. If your invention is software, include "flow diagrams" or "logic diagrams" of the program.
    7. Video: The following guidelines provide basic information about video production and submission:
      • Upload your video to and make sure your video is not password-protected or set to private. You want the judges to be able to watch it!
      • Reference the link on the cover page of your paper.
      • Do NOT turn in the actual video files.
      • Video must be a minimum of three minutes long, but it should not exceed five minutes.
      • Captions are required. Captions should be embedded in the video.
      • The video must show the SME using a functioning prototype in the workplace.
      • Include a discussion of prototype testing.
      • Explain all invention benefits.

The High School Finals Event will take place April 8-10, 2019, in Crystal City, VA, a suburb of Washington, DC. This three-day event includes training sessions, congressional visits on Capitol Hill and the final round of judging. Finalist teams present their projects in front of a judging panel and an audience. Your team should prepare a poster presentation highlighting your invention, with a live demonstration of your working prototype.

Register for the Event

Judges for the SourceAmerica Design Challenge comprise rehabilitation engineers, people with disabilities and others with relevant backgrounds. They will evaluate the technical papers and videos.

Judges will evaluate the projects based on their positive impact on the workplace, such as job creation/retention, wage increases, production increases, contracts gained, waste reduction, stress/anxiety reduction and improved processes.

Teams that meet all general requirements will be considered semifinalists, and their entries will be evaluated by the judges. Within this evaluation process, the nonprofit agency and/or SME may be interviewed. It is imperative to provide proper contact information so that SourceAmerica can reach out to the nonprofit agency and/or SME directly. The interview will consist of questions about the project and its effect on the workplace. These interviews are presented to and reviewed by judges to determine the finalists.

Five high school teams will be chosen as finalists. If your team has been chosen as a finalist team, SourceAmerica will contact your coach. Your team is then invited to participate in the finals event. 

A maximum of two teams from the same school or organization are permitted in the finals. If more than two teams from the same school or organization qualify for the finals, the two teams with the highest scores will be chosen, and the remaining team(s) will receive an honorable mention.

For more information about the 2019 Judges, visit our Finals Event page.

SourceAmerica will pay expenses for each finalist team to travel to the finals event. A finalist team consists of one coach, up to five presenting team members, one agency representative, one subject matter expert (SME) and an SME assistant (if needed). In addition to the trip to Washington, DC, each team will receive a monetary award, which is divided and distributed as follows:

  • School: The educational establishment associated with the team will receive a check that corresponds with its team’s placement in the competition.
  • Team: The total dollar amount is equally divided among the student team members, coach and SME. Teams that prefer an unequal division of the prize money must have the request approved by SourceAmerica. This can be arranged on a team-by-team basis.
  • Nonprofit Agency: The nonprofit agency associated with the team will receive a check that corresponds with its team's placement in the competition.

SourceAmerica encourages all teams to ask questions and use the provided resources to complete the Design Challenge. In addition to the Mentorship Program, which is highlighted below, information on Disability Awareness and Testing Projects will be available for download after registration.   

Mentorship Program

SourceAmerica encourages students to take advantage of SourceAmerica mentors/advisors—individuals outside of your school and/or the NPA who can offer additional assistance—to provide support and advice throughout the competition. They include rehabilitation engineers, Design Challenge judges and former student coaches.

Mentor/team relationships do not influence judging in any way. To request a mentor, please contact Charissa Garcia.