SourceAmerica Announces 2022 IDEATE Winners for Disability Inclusion Innovation

By Jay Thomas 04/15/2022

National engineering challenge encourages students to create assistive technology for people with disabilities in the workplace.

SourceAmerica® proudly announces the college and high school winners for the 2022 IDEATE engineering competition that focuses on disability inclusion in the workplace. 

The college winner is team Cal Poly SLO from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in San Luis Obispo, California. Their project, titled Easing the Way to Increased Job Comfort and Efficiency with eZcart created a new custodial cart that increases on-the-job comfort and efficiency.

“We started out trying to create a more efficient way for our [subject matter expert] to do his job, but in talking to him we discovered that he was having a lot of physical discomfort and we needed to find a solution for that first. Once we did that, his efficiency increased naturally,” said Joey Johnson of Cal Poly SLO. “This experience made us realize how important it is to talk to the people who are doing the job and ask them how they feel and what they need.” 

The winning high school team is Brentwood Research Engineers from Brentwood High School in Brentwood, New York. Their project is titled Scoring a Victory for Increased Productivity and Wages with the Victory Sealer. Their invention, The Victory Sealer, is an assistive device for heat sealing packages to enable the one-handed operation of a typical heat seal press.

“It was so inspiring working with Victor and seeing the impact our design had on him. It was amazing to see how one group of students could work together to create something new to help someone do their job better,” said Nicole Olekanma, member of the winning Brentwood High School team.

“This competition is incredibly important to all of us at SourceAmerica,” said SourceAmerica President and CEO Richard Belden. “It exemplifies the work we’re doing to inspire the next generation to advocate for disability inclusion and to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities.” 

In addition to the judge’s picks, the 350-plus attendees had the opportunity to vote live for their favorite project. More than 170 votes were tallied and the teams from Wethersfield High School from Wethersfield, Connecticut, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from Blacksburg, Virginia, each received 19.3% of the vote and tied for the People’s Choice Award.

IDEATE stands for Imagine, Design, & Evaluate Assistive Technologies for Employment. This annual engineering challenge encourages high school and college students from across the country to create assistive technology that increases workplace success for people with disabilities. In addition, student teams collaborate with a person with a disability in their community to evaluate a need and develop an innovative solution that makes a real difference.

In the finals event that took place virtually on April 13, three college teams and five high school teams from various states competed for the top prize. IDEATE finals judges were SourceAmerica experts in workforce development and productivity engineering. Finalist teams presented their projects and received rankings from the judges based on scalability, repeatability and impact. 

The two winning student teams received a range of benefits and prizes, including monetary prizes, engineering project experience that can be leveraged for college or graduate school applications, as well as a coveted internship at SourceAmerica. To learn more about the IDEATE engineering competition, please visit

About SourceAmerica
SourceAmerica connects government customers and other organizations to a national network of nonprofit agencies that hire a talented segment of the workforce – people with disabilities. Established in 1974, SourceAmerica is committed to increasing economic and social inclusion and advocating for a more accessible future of work for people with differing abilities. As a leading job creator within the disability community and distinguished as an AbilityOne authorized enterprise, SourceAmerica harnesses the momentum and boosts the capability of its network and customers. To learn more, visit and follow @SourceAmerica on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.