ADEC selected 12 teams in three divisions to compete in the ADEC Assistive Technology Challenge 2.0 event. This sequel to last year’s successful 1.0 version will take place Saturday, April 16 at the Northern Indiana Event Center.

Within the high school, college and professional divisions, 57 teams from five local high schools, three area colleges and universities and one maker group submitted detailed proposals for original assistive technology projects to assist people with an intellectual disability.

Teams were then selected based on the amount of independence a person with an intellectual disability would experience using their project, ease of replication, simplicity of operation and reliability, among other criteria.

“We look at if it’s a project they can actually finish on time,” Don Wierenga, ADEC assistive technology and adult habilitation director explained. “We’re also looking at cost; is it something we can use and replicate; having open communication so we can encourage the teams, saying, ‘If you can’t finish this, what can you do instead?’”

In the high school division, Wierenga and Carl Yoder, ADEC assistive technology project manager, noticed the curriculum in schools is geared toward combining design and manufacturing principles by having two students from each discipline on a team. Having this knowledge made it easier to understand what projects would be more likely to succeed in the competition. The selected projects and schools are listed below.

– The Gripper – Northridge High School
– The Grip-It – Northridge High School
– Sander – Marian High School
– Assistive Bowl – Northridge High School
– Adjustable Desk – Penn High School

For the college division, Wierenga and Yoder took special note of projects involving research and using skills taught in a variety of classes. “They are learning to apply these skills to projects,” Yoder explained. The selected teams all hailed from Notre Dame. The selected projects are listed below.

– The GoSleeve Communication Device
– guardIAN
– The Photo Station
– Power Flour Dispenser
– The Tracey

Within the professional division, two teams from the MakerHive, a local group of engineers, tinkerers and mechanics who work together to build technological solutions and explore new applications, were chosen. Yoder said this division gives professionals a chance to try something they may have thought of doing, but never had a chance before. The MakerHive projects are listed below.

– Art Expressions
– Auto Drive

From here, the teams have three months to develop their projects while checking in with Wierenga and Yoder on specific dates to discuss progress and convey vital project information. Teams also have the opportunity to contact Wierenga and Yoder for advice at any point during the development process.

“The teams that did well last year are the ones who had a lot of communication with us, who asked a lot of ‘this or that?’ questions and then come in and test [their projects] out [with our clients],” Wierenga said.

ADEC, based in Bristol, advocates for and serves individuals and families living with the challenges of developmental and intellectual disabilities in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties. In addition to assistive technology, ADEC provides residential, employment, guardianship, family services and day services.

Story by Whitney Craig / Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett / Communications Specialist