Design Challenge Staff and Participants Receive Recognition Award

SourceAmerica Design Challenge Coordinator Charissa Garcia; FVO Solutions, Inc. CEO Bill Murphy; University of California Los Angeles CSULA professor Paul Liu, Ph.D. received Northrop Grumman’s World Class Customer Award for their support of SourceAmerica’s 2015 College Design Challenge, a national engineering competition where students create assistive technology for people with disabilities in the workplace. Northrop Grumman provided guidance to the CSULA team, which placed first among more than 70 entrants.

To participate in the Design Challenge, student teams partner with a nonprofit agency that has identified a workplace barrier for its employees with disabilities. The students work directly with nonprofit management and the employees to create a truly customized solution.

The CSULA team, coached by Liu, created devices that improved the assembly process for hole punches at FVO Solutions based in Pasadena, California.  Their innovative modifications helped its employees with disabilities experience less pain in their hands, wrists, and fingers while working. FVO Solutions implemented the team’s technology, and the results were improved safety, ergonomics, productivity, and production time.

Garcia, who has managed both the college and high school Design Challenge competitions since 2013, was honored to receive the award.

“This award recognizes how the Design Challenge supports people with disabilities through student-engineered technology that changes lives,” said Garcia. “Our hope is that as the students go through their careers and when they encounter a person with a disability, they will be more open to giving them an opportunity.”

Murphy found his experience partnering with CSULA student team for the Design Challenge enriching.

“SourceAmerica’s Design Challenge is a great example of how students and educational institutions are helping people with disabilities be successful in the workplace,” said Murphy.  “We need to put more resources toward finding technical accommodations that allow them to work as productively as their peers without disabilities.”

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