A picture of a tennis ball with a pencil in it provided the inspiration for The Gripper, a project from Northridge High School that took top honors at ADEC Technology Challenge 2.0 Saturday, April 16 at the Northern Indiana Event Center.

The Gripper’s four inventors – Kristie Karch, Cassie Huys, Annie Mounsithiraz and Lora Wilson, all sophomores – won first place in the high school division as well as the Chris Gibson People’s Choice Award. They earned $3,000 in prize money and a 3-D printer for their school.

“It feels amazing,” said Cassie.

The Gripper was one of seven projects chosen by judges for prizes. Second and third place winners in the high school division, Assistive Bowl and The Grip-It, also came from Northridge.

In the university and professional division, three projects from Notre Dame stood out: The GoSleeve Communication Device, first place; Photo Station, second and Power Flour Dispenser,  third. The MakerHive, a team of local engineering professionals, won fourth place for AutoDrive.

“These scores were all really close,” said Donna Belusar, ADEC President/CEO, when presenting the awards. “It’s pretty darn exciting.”

Criteria judges considered included simplicity, originality and significance of impact. A robotics team from Concord Intermediate School gave a demonstration while scores were tallied.

A total of 57 teams began the challenge back in October, submitting project proposals to Don Wierenga, director of ADEC’s Assistive Technology program, and Carl Yoder, assistive technology program manager. Don and Carl trimmed the field to 12 finalists, inviting those teams to demonstrate their projects, science-fair style, at the public event. Spectators voted for the Chris Gibson People’s Choice Award.

“This was terrific,” said John Dickerson, one of the judges. “The energy level, the passion from these students is outstanding.”

“I like the high school projects,” said Bob Troyer, father of an ADEC client and a judge for the second year. “It shows they’re thinking, they’re getting it.”

Parents liked the mix of professional, college and high school projects.

“As a father, I really appreciate the team work and talent, said T. Mounsithiraj, whose daughter Annie, helped create the Gripper.

“They all got it,” said Lisa Kendall, ADEC vice president of human resources. “They all got the mission of the clients having ownership. That’s what impressed me the most. They all got the mission.”

At the end of the day, ADEC awarded the winners a combined total of $7,000 in prize money, two 3-D printer kits and a RotoMaak, all donated by local sponsors. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County provided a matching grant of $10,000 to replicate one or more of the winning projects for manufacture and distribution.

The Gripper 2

The Gripper, an egg shaped holder for a pencil, provides a comfortable way for people with dexterity issues to hold a pencil, pen or other tools. Its creators started with a tennis ball shape, tested it on students in their school, and then refined their model to the smaller, easier to grasp oval shape. The Gripper won first place in the high school division and the Chris Gibson People’s Choice Award.

Go Sleeve Communication Device 2

The GoSleeve Communication Device, first place in the university division, looks something like a smart watch. Instead of a watch face, the sleeve provided screens capable of two-way communication. The wearer could send a message requesting help from a caregiver or pull up instructions for completing a task. A highlight for its inventors was seeing the GoSleeve being tried out by AEC staff and clients. “They saw ways it could be used we hadn’t thought of yet,” said Jeff Bruns.



Robotics 2

The Robotics Team from Concord Intermediate School demonstrates their projects at ATC 2.0.

Photos by Rod Tackett / ADEC Communications Specialist

Story and video by Nancy Miller / Mission Advancement Manager

 GoGrip Making an Impact

The GoGrip, a project that won second-place in ADEC Technology Challenge 1.0 in 2015, is the first piece of assistive technology being manufactured at ADEC Industries in Elkhart. Visitors to ADEC Technology 2.0 got to see a display of its stages of development, from first design to final product, and meet the student behind it, Carson Deal.

Carson said he was blown away by how far his project has come.  “It feels amazing to see the positive impact it has had on the lives of people, and the clients of ADEC,” he said. “If I could help one person to better their lives, then my goal was achieved. I wanted to help that one person and make their life better. It’s evolved into something that’s way bigger than I ever imagined. And it’s awesome!”

Watch Carson’s reaction to seeing the GoGrip for the first time.