STEM assistive technology challenge to benefit disabilities programs

Southwest Human Development is hosting its first ever assistive technology challenge to benefit young children with disabilities.

ComputerSponsored by Insight, with support from Arizona State University and Intel Corporation, the MAKERS of Change Assistive Technology Challenge will bring together Valley high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), coding, robotics and technology teams to troubleshoot and create “real world” solutions using Internet of Things (IoT) technology that will help improve the lives of young children with disabilities.

“We’re turning to the next generation of technology leaders to develop implementable solutions to challenges children with disabilities experience in their daily lives,” said Jake Adams, chief development officer at Southwest Human Development. “The challenge will focus on families served by our ADAPT Shop, which is one of the many Easterseals disabilities programs we offer.”

The ADAPT Shop at Southwest Human Development is a place where every project begins with an idea based on a need and ends with a life improved. Thanks to a dedicated and experienced team of therapists and fabricators, children from birth to age 5 with physical disabilities are able to receive the supports they need to become independent, active participants in regular activities enjoyed by other children their age.

“Because the ADAPT Shop is such a unique program here in Arizona and throughout the country, the participating high school teams are going to be on the frontlines of developing cutting-edge solutions that will actually provide a positive change in the lives of the young children we work with,” added Adams.

Each high school team of no more than six team members, plus their coach, will choose one of four scenarios of a real life problem that is experienced by children with disabilities. Teams will have four weeks to develop and build a solution for the scenario using IoT technology and will be matched with a professional mentor who will assist and guide them through project ideation and execution.

Employees at Tempe-based Insight heard about the new assistive technology challenge and decided to get involved with the high school teams to provide mentorship and financial support to the challenge. Insight, the global system integrator of Insight Intelligent Technology Solutions™ for organizations of all sizes, began supporting Southwest Human Development’s ADAPT Shop in 2015 as part of Reach, its program to make a difference in the community through technology.

“MAKERS of Change taps into our passion for transforming lives through technology,” said Curt Cornum, vice president of global business transformation, Insight. “Given our rich expertise in smart devices, it’s exciting to mentor our innovators of the future and provide them a deeper vision for the possibilities of IoT. Doing so while solving challenges faced by children with disabilities makes this competition even more meaningful.”

Insight supports STEM through annual technology donations to under-served schools, personal mentorship to students in Guadalupe, and providing laptops to foster youth who are preparing for college.

The registration deadline is Sept. 7 and there is a $100 team registration fee to participate. Final team presentations will take place on Oct. 13 at the Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix. Teams will be evaluated on a variety of qualitative measures by a judging panel consisting of representatives from Insight Enterprises, Arizona State University and Intel Corporation. The winning high school team will win a $500 cash prize.

To register a team, receive more information or sponsor the MAKERS of Change Assistive Technology Challenge, visit www.swhd.org/makers.