March 7, 2019

Design Challenge, A National Engineering Competition, Raises Awareness of Challenges in the Workplace for People with Disabilities; Awards High School Teams for Innovative Solutions

VIENNA, VA (March 7, 2019) – SourceAmerica®, an AbilityOne® authorized enterprise, announced today the high school team finalists of its annual SourceAmerica Design Challenge. This national engineering competition highlights high school students across the country who create and enter an innovative process, device, system or software that helps people with disabilities overcome workplace challenges.

"This competition presents a real-world opportunity for high school students to be paired with a person with a disability in their community who is experiencing a challenge in the workplace and create a solution that significantly improves the person's job proficiency," said SourceAmerica Chief Operating Officer Steven Krotonsky. "It raises awareness of the struggles people with disabilities can face in the workplace, and challenges students to use their ingenuity, science and engineering skills to create their projects."

Once students develop a piece of technology or a process designed to overcome a workplace obstacle for the person they were paired with, it must be tested, used by the individual it was designed for and implemented in the workplace to assess its effectiveness. Students then submit a video, technical paper with 3D models, worksheets and additional paperwork to complete the Design Challenge requirements.

Judges for the SourceAmerica Design Challenge are comprised of rehabilitation engineers, people with disabilities and others with relevant backgrounds. They evaluated the projects based on positive impact in the workplace -- job creation/retention, wage increases, production increases, contracts gained, waste reduction, stress/anxiety reduction and improved processes.

The five high school team finalists that were selected from more than 50 entries for this year's national competition include:

Copley High School: Sorting Solutions So Everyone Can Work -- Copley, Ohio
The Copley Lady Engineers Plus Two team from Copley High School in Ohio partnered with Weaver ProPak to create a system of devices called the Sort-A-Screw (SAS). Prior to the development of the SAS, only 4 out of 26 employees could work the sorting and kitting process, which involves sorting and bagging nuts, bolts, screws and washers. The SAS features a multipart system that is easy to use, includes a quality control device that eliminates the need to recheck all packages, and accommodates interchangeable sorting plates for different kitting requirements. In addition to simplifying the process, the SAS has substantially decreased the amount of time required for kit assembly and quality control checks. More importantly, it has made the sorting and kitting process accessible to all Weaver ProPak employees.
Video: Sorting Solutions So Everyone Can Work

Diamond Bar High School: A "Turn for a Change" Leads to a Change for the Better -- Diamond Bar (Los Angeles/San Bernardino), California
The Diamond Bar High School team partnered with Opportunity Village, a nonprofit organization in Southern Nevada that serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many of the employees at Opportunity Village are involved in the process of cleaning remote controls and wrapping cables, and the Diamond Bar team set the goal of increasing employee efficiency, productivity and comfort when engaging in these tasks. The team's final design, called "Turn for a Change," consists of three devices: two for cleaning remotes and one motorized wrapping device to wrap cable cords. The three devices enable users to wrap cables and clean remotes more easily, and since using these devices, employees at Opportunity Village have demonstrated a decrease in the time needed to complete each task and an increase in ease of use and comfort while doing so.
Video: A "Turn for a Change" Leads to a Change for the Better

Marquette Catholic High School: Eliminating Errors and Increasing Employee Satisfaction -- Alton, Illinois
The MCHS Blue Crew Engineering team collaborated with Challenge Unlimited, a nonprofit organization in Alton, Illinois, that is dedicated to providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities. To improve the speed and accuracy of Challenge Unlimited's employees when packing boxes of shotgun shells, the MCHS Blue Crew Engineering team created a device called the Shell Shover. The Shell Shover is color-coded and has holes of differing sizes to help employees place shells properly into the device, and in turn, pack them correctly into the box. Employees that used the device increased their speed at carrying out the process and eliminated nearly every error.
Video: Eliminating Errors and Increasing Employee Satisfaction

Poolesville High School, Team A&M Co.: A Hands-Free App Provides the Recipe for Success -- Poolesville, Maryland
The A&M Co. team of Poolesville High School created a software application called "RecipEasy" to assist kitchen employees at That's a Wrap deli in Gaithersburg, Maryland. That's a Wrap employs people with developmental disabilities and provides a number of menu offerings to customers. RecipEasy helps employees follow the steps for successfully preparing recipes, and because it is camera-activated and hands-free when necessary, employees can maintain the sanitary standards required. Using RecipEasy in That's a Wrap's kitchen has reduced the amount of employee assistance needed by half and led to increased employee confidence.
Video: A Hands-Free App Provides the Recipe for Success

Poolesville High School, Team SIC: Brewing Up Workplace Solutions -- Poolesville, Maryland
The team SIC from Poolesville High School partnered with Furnace Hills Coffee in Westminster, Maryland. Furnace Hills Coffee is committed to hiring people with developmental disabilities, and the Poolesville High School team was tasked with developing a device to help employees more accurately and quickly measure one pound of coffee beans. To meet this challenge, the Poolesville High School team created a device called the Coffee Cube. Sitting atop a scale, the Coffee Cube measures the coffee by weight and dispenses one pound of beans directly into a bag. The Coffee Cube has decreased the time it takes employees to weigh and bag coffee beans by approximately 90 percent, substantially increasing efficiency and productivity. It has also increased employee independence and job satisfaction, helping Furnace Hills Coffee deliver on its promise of "Special Coffee Roasted by Special People."
Video: Brewing Up Workplace Solutions

The SourceAmerica Design Challenge Finals Event will take place April 10 just outside of Washington, D.C., following two days of training sessions and congressional visits on Capitol Hill. The finalists will present their projects in front of a judging panel and an audience and will receive trophies and cash prizes.

For more information about SourceAmerica's Design Challenge, please visit: www.sourceamerica.org/design-challenge/home.

About SourceAmerica
Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates employment opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of people with 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 750 community-based nonprofits. Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, 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. Visit SourceAmerica.org to learn more, or follow us on Facebook (@SourceAmerica), Twitter (@SourceAmericaUS) and LinkedIn (@SourceAmerica).