Poolesville Students Place in Assistive Technology Challenge (Photos)

The annual national AbilityOne Design Challenge competition encourages students to develop technologies that empower people with disabilities to break through barriers to employment.

Poolesville High School “The Nexus” Team, 2nd place and recipient of “Best Engineering Design” award Sreejan Kumar, Krishna Gajjala, and Brandon Grinkemeyer and Poolesville HS Teacher/Team Coach Kevin Lee.

Poolesville High School “The Nexus” Team, 2nd place and recipient of “Best Engineering Design” award Sreejan Kumar, Krishna Gajjala, and Brandon Grinkemeyer and Poolesville HS Teacher/Team Coach Kevin Lee.

Three teams from Poolesville High School in Montgomery County took part in the competition on Feb. 28 in Vienna, Va.

The Poolesville “Nexus” team took home second place and was awarded the title of “best engineering”  for their design.

The Nexus was created to give employees a more efficient way to produce O-rings used to waterproof electrical parts. The device is designed to enables employees to more independently, more efficiently and more accurately to manufacture the O-rings. It also allows employees to work on six O-rings at once.

The Poolesville “Die Cast Guide” team took home second place and was the recipient of the “Best Use of Assistive Technology” award.

The Die Cast Guide was created for employees with vision impairments to enable them to more independently and efficiently manufacture buffer pads used in floor cleaning and polishing machines. This device converted a job previously designated for sighted workers to a job all employees could perform and, at the same time, helped reduce the amount of material used.

The Poolesville “Sealing Device” team was awarded “runner up” at the competition for their design which was created to help employees efficiently and accurately seal the tops of tea bag boxes with clear labels.

Wethersfield High School of Wethersfield, Conn., took  first place in the national AbilityOne Design Challenge, winning Best Overall Design for their device called “The Path.” The technology was created to allow employees with limited dexterity or no use of their hands to package metal chains used for military ID tags in small envelopes.

SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for nearly 125,000 people with significant disabilities, sponsors the competition.

The AbilityOne Design Challenge is a competitive process that requires students to build a functioning prototype of their assistive technology device in order to be considered for contention.

Submissions for the Design Challenge must create greater access to employment for people with disabilities in one of the following areas: Computer Access, Environmental Accommodations, Functional Control and Access, Transportation/Mobility, Communication Assistance, Cognitive Accessories; or any device or system that gives access or improved earnings to people with disabilities.

To ensure that these devices meet the workforce needs of people with disabilities they must be developed in collaboration with a person with a disability.

To learn more about the AbilityOne Design Challenge presented by SourceAmerica, visit their website here.

See photos of Poolesville High School’s teams during the Assistive Technology Challenge below (photos courtesy of Kimberly Bronow):

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).

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