Wethersfield High School Students Win National Assistive Technology Design Challenge

By SourceAmerica 03/04/2014

Wethersfield High School Students Win National Assistive Technology Design Challenge

CT Team Wins Best Overall Design with The Path

Vienna, VA – Feb. 28, 2014: Wethersfield High School of Wethersfield, CT, placed first in the national AbilityOne® Design Challenge, winning Best Overall Design for their device called The Path. This assistive technology was created to allow employees with limited dexterity or no use of their hands to package metal chains used for military ID tags in small envelopes.

The annual AbilityOne Design Challenge competition encourages students to develop technologies that empower people with disabilities to break through barriers to employment. SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for nearly 125,000 people with significant disabilities, sponsors the competition.

The Wethersfield High School students worked directly with individuals who have intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries and who are employed at CW Resources, a nonprofit organization in New Britain, CT, which employs and provides services to people with disabilities. "We are proud of the team," said Wethersfield co-advisor Sue Fennelly. "This is the best of the STEM challenges because it couples the innovation and people with disabilities."

"The motivation of the team was impressive. They spent hours of after-school time, even vacations, to achieve this," said Joseph Kess, Wethersfield's other co-advisor.

"We are very proud of the inventiveness and originality of all of our finalists," said SourceAmerica President and CEO Bob Chamberlin. "Their creative thinking and talents, as well as the remarkable efforts of all the entrants, led to real-world contributions that empower individuals with disabilities in workplaces around the country." The five finalist teams were presented trophies, and the teams, coaches, and schools were awarded cash prizes.

This year's other high school finalists include:

Second Place Winners

  • Best Engineering Design recipient: Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md., The Nexus
  • Best Use of Assistive Technology recipient: Poolesville High School, Die Cast Guide

Runners Up

The AbilityOne Design Challenge is a competitive process that requires students to build a functioning prototype of their assistive technology device in order to be considered for contention. Submissions for the Design Challenge must create greater access to employment for people with disabilities in one of the following areas: Computer Access, Environmental Accommodations, Functional Control and Access, Transportation/Mobility, Communication Assistance, Cognitive Accessories; or any device or system that gives access or improved earnings to people with disabilities. To ensure that these devices meet the workforce needs of people with disabilities they must be developed in collaboration with a person with a disability.

By applying their talents, knowledge, innovation and technology to workplace barriers, students demonstrate their dedication to increasing employment opportunities, productivity and earnings for people with disabilities. Previous award-winning devices reflect exemplary application of engineering and design to a workplace challenge, as well as consideration of additional factors encountered by people with disabilities in today’s society—economics, ease of use, safety, universality and availability of technology.

To learn more about the AbilityOne Design Challenge presented by SourceAmerica, please visit: www.a1designchallenge.org.

Media Contact:
Matt Warnock

About SourceAmerica
Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce: people with significant disabilities. SourceAmerica is the vital link between the federal government and private sector organizations that procure the products and services provided by this exceptional workforce via a network of more than 1,000 community-based nonprofits. Headquartered in Vienna, VA, SourceAmerica provides its nonprofit agency network with business development, contract management, legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful nonprofit management. SourceAmerica is an AbilityOne authorized enterprise.

About the AbilityOne Program
Providing employment opportunities to nearly 50,000 people, the AbilityOne Program is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States. Nearly 600 participating nonprofit organizations employ these individuals and provide quality goods and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. The AbilityOne Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, an independent Federal agency.