SourceAmerica Announces 2018 Design Challenge Finalists

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Students craft workplace solutions to benefit people with disabilities.

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Student teams partner with nonprofit organizations or businesses that employ people with disabilities to design devices and systems to improve safety and accessibility in the workplace.

Three college and five high school teams from across the country are headed to the nation’s capital to compete for the top prize in SourceAmerica’s annual Design Challenge competition to improve the workplace for people with disabilities.

From the college-level competition, one team from California State University, Los Angeles and two teams from Lawrence Technical University in Southfield, Michigan made the cut. Teams from both schools previously made the finals; Cal State won last year’s college division and Lawrence Technical University placed third.

The high school-level competition also has teams returning for another shot at the top prize. Copley High School from Copley, Ohio, and Poolesville High School from Poolesville, Maryland, are returning finalists. Copley High had two teams advance to the finals last year; those teams placed second and third. Poolesville High placed second in the 2016 Design Challenge. New to this year’s finals are Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon and an all-girls team from various high schools competing with the Portland-based organization STEM4Girls. The fifth group of high school finalists hails from Triad High School in Troy, Illinois.

The SourceAmerica Design Challenge is a national competition held among teams at the high school and college levels. Student teams partner with nonprofit organizations or businesses that employ people with disabilities to design devices and systems to improve safety and accessibility in the workplace. They work closely with employees with disabilities to determine the scope and effectiveness of their project. This year, more than 120 teams entered the competition.

The finalist teams will compete at the final competition in Washington, D.C., April 9-11. In addition to submitting their designs to a panel of judges who will determine the ultimate winner, they’ll meet with congressional representatives, learn more about disabilities in the workplace and connect with other STEM-minded students from across the country.

More on the finalists:

California State University, Los Angeles
Partner Organization: FVO Solutions, Inc. https://www.fvosolutions.com
Project: Interactive Virtual Assembly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6FE1BV2v-8&feature=youtu.be
The California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) team created an interactive, virtual reality job training program for employees with disabilities to support assembly processes.

Lawrence Technological University
Partner Organization: Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) http://stepcentral.org
Project: Clip Assembly Device https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9U4wbxxH9o
The Clip Assembly Device is a handheld device to help assemble a small metal pin into a plastic clip. It looks like a retractable ball point pen with a platform that contours the shape of the clip. A magnetic groove for the metal pin can be easily grasped to release the parts with the click of pen.

Lawrence Technological University
Partner Organization: Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) http://stepcentral.org
Project: Cube XL Assembly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7JuMv2z1Mc
The Cube XL Assembly nearly doubles the strut assembly output of employees in addition to increasing user enjoyment and focus. Employees with the use of only one hand can now assemble struts.

Copley High School
Partner Organization: Weaver Industries http://www.weaverindustries.org
Project: Paper Stack Cutter (PSC) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkWUMoz9QqU&feature=youtu.be
The Paper Stack Cutter (PSC) opens packages of pamphlets for shredding to ensure all employees at Weaver Industries SecurShred can prepare the materials for shredding.

Poolesville High School
Partner Organization: NIH Project SEARCH
Project: Folder Filler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAxWxDXwcdk&feature=youtu.be
The team created a device that inserts confidential documents into a manila envelope. The device enabled an automation clerk to become independent in his job.

STEM4Girls
Partner Organization: Edwards Enterprises http://edwardscenter.org
Project: Packy -- The Affordable Stretch Wrapping Machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qlRrgFNglc&feature=youtu.be
The Packy is a cost-effective and easily adjustable stretch wrapping device that enables employees to bundle a variety of boxes without the assistance of another staff member.

The Catlin Gabel School
Partner Organization: On The Move
Project: JonApp https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7BFv5qU5dA
The JonApp supports people with cognitive and developmental disabilities by providing a structure to organize and complete tasks in the workplace. The app includes images, dictation and a very user-friendly interface.

Triad High School
Partner Organization: Challenge Unlimited http://www.cuinc.org
Project: Preparing Patches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SZAvXIxsVA
Preparing Patches makes it easier to tear “Tear-Aid Patches” into groups of
three. The patches then go into a repair kit for a wheelchair. The product reduces the time and increases efficiency for employees.

For more information, visit sourceamerica.org/design-challenge.

About SourceAmerica
Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of 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 800 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.

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