Design Challenge 2020 Team Bios


Team: 2901
School Name:
California State University, Los Angeles
Partner Organization: MVLE
Project: Light Up The World

Lighting Up Lives with the Light Up The World Project
The student team from California State University in Los Angeles (Cal State LA) partnered with MVLE, a nonprofit organization committed to employing and supporting people with disabilities, to improve MVLE's hand-rolled candle process. At the outset, this process involved softening beeswax with a hair dryer and rolling the beeswax into candles by hand. Rolling a single beeswax candle took an average of seven minutes, and only half the candles met the standard required. Cal State LA took up the charge from there – working with their subject matter expert, an employee at MVLE, to create a new process for candle rolling. Together, they created a device that utilizes a heat lamp to soften the beeswax and rolls candles with the pull of a handle. The result is a simplified and more efficient process that minimizes waste, alleviates ergonomic strains on employees' hands and increases productivity by almost four times.

Team: 2904
School Name:
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
Partner Organization: Target
Project: Slide Stool

Sliding to Success with the Slide Stool Project
The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology team and their subject matter expert, a cashier at Target, worked together to create the Slide Stool. The team focused on developing a workplace solution for their SME that would eliminate the need for him to stand for long hours at his register or to repeatedly sit down and stand up because he was using a stationary stool while ringing up and bagging customers' items. The team's efforts resulted in the creation of the Slide Stool – a stool that slides along two rails for ease of movement between the register and bagging station. The Slide Stool also has retractable wheels, so the SME can more easily move to another register or out of the way of co-workers who need to access supplies at his station. Instead of standing for extended periods of time or continuously standing and sitting while using a stationary stool, the SME now slides right to scan products and then left to bag them. This reduces the discomfort he previously felt while on the job. As a result, he can work longer and earn more money, which in turn, enhances his quality of life – both at work and beyond. 

Team: 2909
School Name:
Tarrant County College
Partner Organization: EXPANCO, Inc.
Project: Sheet Metal Forming Fastener Processor

Reimagining the Process for Processing Sheet Metal Fasteners
The Tarrant County College team partnered with EXPANCO, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Fort Worth, Texas, to develop a more efficient process for unscrewing sheet metal fasteners. It took the team's subject matter expert, an EXPANCO employee, twelve turns to unscrew the faster with one hand. The team created a device using a pressure-sensitive electronic screwdriver and a 3D-printed bit to hold the sheet metal fastener in place. The device was then mounted on an aluminum fixture that included a C-clamp on the bottom to secure it to the table. This device allows for one-handed operation and significantly reduced the time, effort and fine motor control required to complete this process. This device will lead to an increase in wages, and it is easy enough to use that it can readily be operated by any of EXPANCO's employees.

High School:

Team: 1901
School Name:
Diamond Bar High School
Partner Organization: FRW Industrial Support Systems
Project: Trifling with Rifle Badges

Creating a More Expert Way to Assemble Rifle Expert Medallions
The Diamond Bar High School team partnered with FRW Industrial Support Systems in Fontana, California, to develop a process that would improve their rifle expert medallion assembly. This four-step process includes separating and organizing parts, attaching two metal parts with O-rings, packaging the medallions and labeling the box. The team, with their subject matter expert from FRW, assessed the current process before moving on to brainstorming and development. Together, they created a process that utilized three separate devices: a medallion alignment jig, an O-ring opener and a label aligner. Each device simplifies a step in the process – speeding up productivity overall, reducing strain on employees' hands and providing an opportunity for more of FRW's employees to participate in this task. Prior to using the medallion alignment jig, that segment of the process would take the team's SME more than two-and-a-half minutes. With it, he could complete the task in one minute and twenty-two seconds – a 47 percent improvement.

Team: 1905
School Name:
Marquette Catholic High School
Partner Organization: Challenge Unlimited, Inc.
Project: The Shox

Eliminating Errors by Introducing the Shox
Marquette Catholic High School's Pi Guys team worked with their subject matter expert, an employee at Challenge Unlimited, Inc., to develop a more efficient process for transferring shotgun shells from one box to another. Because the shells must be placed in the new boxes in an alternating pattern, high error rates were common. Working together, the team created a device called the Shox. This device reduced the time it took to transfer the contents of one box to another and dropped the error rate from 100 percent to zero percent per box. Prior to using this device, the team's SME could transfer the contents of four boxes in a fifteen-minute timeframe. Using the Shox device, the team's SME can now transfer nine boxes in a fifteen-minute timeframe – an improvement of 125 percent. This increase in productivity boosts the earning potential not just of the team's SME, but also other employees at Challenge Unlimited who use the device.

Team: 1906
School Name:
Marquette Catholic High School
Partner Organization: Challenge Unlimited, Inc.
Project: My Cleaning Buddy

Cleaning Up with Ingenuity and My Cleaning Buddy
Marquette Catholic High School's G.I.R.L.S. team worked with two subject matter experts from Challenge Unlimited, Inc. to develop a solution that would help employees complete janitorial tasks more efficiently. My Cleaning Buddy is a visual aid that helps janitorial staff at Challenge Unlimited by directing them through each cleaning task. It does this through an instructive presentation that includes text, audio, pictures and video. It also includes help buttons on some of the more complicated task slides. The presentation can be edited by staff with no programming experience, making this a sustainable and scalable tool for Challenge Unlimited. The presentation is delivered using an iPad or other device that is attached to a cleaning cart via a 3D-printed support system. The support system can be attached and removed from cleaning carts, which makes it easy to transfer from one cart to another and to store when not in use. In addition to helping their subject matter expert more quickly, independently and successfully complete cleaning tasks, My Cleaning Buddy has proven helpful in training new janitorial staff. Employees who could not join the cleaning crew before, including the team's second subject matter expert, can now pursue this new job option as a direct result of the team's invention.

Team: 1911
School Name:
Copley High School
Partner Organization: Weaver ProPak 
Project: Bracket Tightening Assembly System

Streamlining Bracket Assembly for an All-Around Winning Bracket
The Copley Engineering team partnered with Weaver ProPak to simplify and streamline a bracket assembly process. The process covered the assembly of three parts: the bracket, the bracket bolt and the bracket nut. Because of the dexterity requirements, only a handful of employees could assemble the brackets, and due to safety concerns, an even smaller number could operate the drill. The Copley Engineering team set out to create a system that would boost productivity and increase the number of employees who could participate in the assembly process. Together with their subject matter expert from Weaver ProPak, they created the Bracket Tightening Assembly System (BTAS). This redesigned assembly process incorporates a team approach by having three employees operating independent, single-step workstations. Using the BTAS, employees can now assemble an extra 479 brackets a day – an 11.9 percent increase in productivity. Additionally, most employees at Weaver ProPak can work on this assembly process, including safely operating the new drill setup. This has led to increased job access and flexibility for employees, less fatigue for those at the assembly workstations and better production time overall.

Team: 1932
School Name:
Diamond Bar High School
Partner Organization: Ability Counts, Inc.
Project: The Fastener

Raising the Bar with Diamond Bar's Fastener Device
Diamond Bar High School partnered with Ability Counts, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Corona, California, to help create a more efficient and effective nut-and-bolt assembly process. Working with their subject matter expert from Ability Counts, the Diamond Bar team focused on product consistency, operator comfort and employee usability. The result was a device called The Fastener. This device enables employees to assemble five nut and bolt pairs simultaneously – taking their subject matter expert's count from 60 sets per hour to 100 sets per hour. The Fastener's color-coded slots and bins and one-push mechanism make it easy to operate, and it has led to greater comfort and consistency across the board. The ease of use with this device has opened up opportunities for employees that had trouble with this task before, and the team's SME has experienced an increase not just in productivity and consistency, but also in his own on-the-job satisfaction.