National competition focuses on designing workplace technology for people with disabilities WASHINGTON, June 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), placed first in the SourceAmerica College Design Challenge, a national engineering competition to address employment issues faced by individuals with disabilities.
CSULA’s multidisciplinary team was recognized for its innovative device called ‘Straight to the Punch,’ a solution that improves the assembly processes for two kinds of hole-punchers. The team partnered with FVO Solutions, Inc. (FVO), a nonprofit agency that employs people with disabilities, to develop the solution. The team’s improvements were implemented into FVO’s work processes, and have resulted in improved safety, ergonomics, productivity, and production time for their employees with disabilities. The team worked closely with FVO management and their employees with disabilities throughout the project.
“Throughout the Design Challenge, we’ve been able to apply what we’ve learned in engineering school, but more than that, we’ve been able to gain a new perspective,” said Shi-Hsin Frank Wang, CSULA team member. “Life isn’t about the paycheck; it’s about engagement and service to others.”
Participants in the annual College Design Challenge step out of the confines of a classroom to devise an innovative solution for a nonprofit agency that employs people with disabilities. During two semesters, the students work together to develop a process, device, system, or software to overcome a workplace barrier. This hands-on service learning opportunity enhances the students’ engineering, communication, writing, math, presentation, and social skills while helping the community.
The top three teams presented their projects before a panel of judges and the public at SourceAmerica’s Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., while competing for prizes and school grants.
“Students from around the country rose to the challenge this year to develop technology that transforms lives,” said Steven Soroka, president and CEO of SourceAmerica. “Simply put, the Design Challenge creates tools for successful employment and provides some of our best and brightest college students the opportunity to learn more about the disability community. By improving productivity for people with disabilities in the workplace, these students are helping us get one step closer to the day when every person with a disability who wants a job can have a job and be successful at it.”
This year’s winners also included:
- Second place: Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
- Third place: United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
“Through the dedicated work of students, coaches and non-profit partners, the College Design Challenge has a tremendous impact on communities,” says Charissa Garcia, Design Challenge Coordinator. “The tools enhance employment success for those with disabilities; the project helps the students become better engineers; and the program showcases what can be accomplished when we work together!”
To learn more about the SourceAmerica College Design Challenge, please visit: www.sourceamericadesignchallenge.org.
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 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.