Gardner Edgerton High School’s engineering design team finished second at the AbilityOne Design Challenge in Washington, D.C. last week.
The challenge is an annual competition to develop assistive technologies to empower people with disabilities to overcome barriers to employment.
NISH, a national nonprofit agency which works to create employment for people with significant disabilities, sponsors the competition.
NISH President and CEO Bob Chamberlin said GEHS’ invention, the LABB, or Lever Action Box Builder, was selected from hundreds of entries to compete in D.C.
The LABB was created to assist in the manufacture of prefabricated boxes. Specifically, LABB  allows an employee to build boxes using only one hand.
The invention took second place behind a squad of high school students from Connecticut.
“By applying their talents, knowledge and ideas, these students were able to develop innovative, new technologies to help those with significant disabilities overcome workplace barriers,” Chamberlin said. “We are overjoyed with this year’s results and very proud of all of our finalists.”
The AbilityOne Design Challenge is a competitive process which requires students to build a functioning prototype of their device in order to be considered for contention.
High school teams must complete an online training module and work through the fall to research, design and submit a discussion paper and video presentation featuring their device.
The device must be in use or intended to be in use by the end of the school year in order to be considered.
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.
— Danedri Thompson