STEM Designs for Disabled Workers

. March 1, 2015.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Club at St. Ursula Academy placed in the top three at the FalconBest Blade Runner regional robotics competition at BGSU last November. The team of seven designed and built a robot vehicle that could transport a wind turbine past several logistical challenges. The girls designed and built the wind turbine, then created an exhibit for the vehicle and a marketing plan for their invention. The high showing earned them a trip to the national competition in North Dakota in December. 

Teacher/club advisor Jackie Kane explained, “I am unbelievably proud of how much they’ve learned in just six weeks. The competition demanded that they use lots of skills, from using screwdrivers to programming to marketing. The judges called our entry ‘small but mighty,’ and they were right!”

Kane described the competition in North Dakota as “stiff but exciting.” The team gave a 20-minute marketing presentation about their created robot company, and ran a booth describing their work. The team did not win, but earned a spot in the playoffs.  A  video of the competition SUA Arrowbotics Team is available on YouTube (search by the organization’s name) .

The team members have entered another competition, the SourceAmerica Design Challenge, a national engineering competition for high school and college students. Their assignment is to work with an organization that employs people with disabilities or with a person with a disability to invent a process, device, system, or software for a more productive work environment. In addition, they prepared a 10-page paper about their device and research they did in developing it, as well as a four-minute video showing how it works. 

Team members designed what they call the Swivel ‘N’ Slide, a mobile articulating arm support device. They worked with Tony Carn, whose cerebral palsy kept him from typing at his data entry job. Their device made it possible for him to increase his typing rate by 32 percent.

They have entered their device in the competition, and if they are chosen among the top five finalists, they will compete in the final round of the competition in Washington, D.C., for cash prizes for the school and the team members.