Registration Opens for Student STEM Competition Maximizing Employment Potential of People with Disabilities

By SourceAmerica 08/29/2017

VIENNA, Va. — Registration is now open for the SourceAmerica high school and college Design Challenge, a one-of-a-kind competition blending entrepreneurism, engineering skills and compassion to broaden student perspectives on disability and capability. During the 2017 fall school semester, participants will serve as productivity engineering consultants for a business employing people with disabilities. Then they'll build custom assistive technology for the employees who need it most.

Getting people with disabilities the workplace assistance they need is an issue championed by national disability employment leader SourceAmerica. According to Disability Compendium, only 35 percent of people with disabilities ages 18-64 are employed, and too often they don't get the support necessary to help them reach their maximum employment potential. Student exposure through the Design Challenge to SourceAmerica's mission—creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities—means these future employers might think differently when hiring and building businesses to ensure they are inclusive and accessible to everyone.

"SourceAmerica is empowering students to raise the bar on national workplace support for people with disabilities," said Charissa Garcia, SourceAmerica productivity engineer and Design Challenge program manager. "What many people may not know is how useful technology can be in equalizing their abilities. Students across the country participating in the Design Challenge can be part of this powerful change."

To participate, students form teams and partner with a business employing people with disabilities. They'll apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills to build, refine and test their assistive technology solutions, working closely with the employees with disabilities. At the end of the semester, teams will turn in a final video and paper, and will be judged on business impact. Finalist teams will present their solutions while competing for cash prizes in front of a live audience in Washington, D.C.

"Design Challenge students have been the catalyst for countless success stories that have positively changed outcomes for employees with disabilities and businesses," Garcia said. "We look forward to many new and repeat schools participating this year and taking assistive technology to the next level."

Students ready to build their teams should register at

Teachers who'd like more information about initiating Design Challenge participation at their schools should contact Charissa Garcia ( or call 703-584-3940.