From Coding, Fabrication, Woodworking and Critical Thinking - It Takes a Team, Plus Two, to Create a Device That Eases Workplace Challenges
The SourceAmerica Design Challenge is well underway. Five high school finalists have been selected and announced for the national engineering competition that highlights high school students across the country that have created an innovative process, device, system or software that helps people with disabilities overcome workplace challenges. Among the finalists are The Copley Lady Engineers Plus Two from Copley, Ohio.
The team partnered with nonprofit agency Weaver Industries to work with Weaver ProPak employee Willie Warrior 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.
“We brainstormed for hours trying to find a possible solution,” said Nina White, student at Copley High and team leader. “We had three phases of our first prototype and as we progressed with each phase, we would add plastic and 3-D printed parts. We also added a lot of color and audio cues so essentially anyone who uses the device would be able to. We probably had about 10 prototypes in total and counting!”
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.
"We really enjoy getting involved in the community and taking part in something with real-world impact," said White. "Through this process we learned that it takes a team with different skill sets from coding, fabrication, woodworking and critical thinking to create a device. We realized that what we're learning in school can be easily transitioned to engineering projects like Design Challenge, and we’re proud of our accomplishments."
The Copley team set a goal to improve employees' task of sorting and kitting various sized material, and successfully reached it. Since submitting their device for the Design Challenge, the SAS has been in use at Weaver ProPak. What’s more, inspired by their ability to create a solution for people with disabilities, the team has been working on a new, improved device.
The Copley Lady Engineers are not new to the Design Challenge. In fact, the team was selected as one of the five high school finalists in 2018 for their Paper Stack Cutter (PSC) device that was designed to help Weaver Industries SecureShred employees safely open and prepare packages of pamphlets for shredding.
This year, the former four-member Copley Lady Engineers have recruited two additional members to form The Copley Lady Engineers Plus Two. In addition to White, The Copley Lady Engineers Plus Two team also includes students Courtney Phillips, Alison Jones, Justin Bartlett, Daniel Garner, and Alexis Gingras. The team's coach, Kirby Harder, supervised the students as they worked to create a workplace solution for Weaver ProPak.