Mechanical Engineering Team Wins Design and Social Innovation Contest 2013

Members of the winning design, Team YesUCan, with Design Challenge judges.

On University of Delaware’s Reading Day this May, a team of judges from across disciplines witnessed presentations by 5 teams competing in the Delaware Design Institute’s First Annual Social Innovation and Design Challenge.

The Design Challenge, set forth by the Delaware Design Institute for the 2012/2013 academic year, asked students to identify a “wicked” problem and work together as a team to design a product or program to address that problem.  Teams were granted one brainstorming session with a contest judge and were asked to articulate not only their problem and solution, but to also describe their design (and re-design) process.

Teams of students from multiple departments came together to present their ideas and research innovations, all vying for the $500 Grand Prize.  Congratulations to all of this year’s teams for a job well-done!

Grand Prize Winners: Team YesUCan

Team YesUCan: Matt Klixbull and Mike Pfeiffer
Not Pictured: Matt Durst

University of Delaware seniors Mike Pfeifer, Matt Klixbull and Matt Durst began their project as senior mechanical engineering students this past fall.  Their objective was to retrofit a full-sized tricycle with a steering mechanism and braking system that would allow an adult with limited mobility to still enjoy the benefits of biking.  This grand prize winning project was undertaken to benefit YesUCan USA – Center for Adapted Sports, Fitness and Recreation, a Delaware-based nonprofit promoting mobility for persons of all abilities.

First Runner-Up: ADHD: An opportunity for creativity

Members of the ADHD: Opportunity for Creativity Team – Andrew Beauchemin, Courtney Colegrove, Kyle Drury, Stephanie Leon and Ally Turkheimer

Recognizing a relatively recent increase in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD and the resultant struggles faced by both parents and teachers, this team sought an inexpensive solution that would allow integration of ADHD students into the mainstream classroom and benefit both ADHD children and those without ADHD.  The team put together a Teacher Toolkit complete with: exercise balls (to be used as chairs), Classical Music, dry erase board and markers, paper clips (for math work) and letter tiles (for spelling work) as well as a list of hand signals commonly used in classroom management.  The team also developed a sample lesson plan to be used in an early elementary classroom.  Using tangible items like tiles, paper clips and dry erase boards were presented as well-researched methods of connecting with and learning in all students.  Exercise balls as chairs have been shown to effectively allow for some literal “wiggle-room” that is non-distracting in the classroom environment.  In assembling this kit, the team hopes that all classrooms could be inexpensively transformed into ADHD-friendly environments that benefit all students.

Additional Entries

Members of the Energy Conservation Team: Shelby Brightbill, Laura Maxant, Melissa Healion, and Daniel Kaplan

The Energy Conservation team proposed the addition of a three-way switch in University of Delaware dorm rooms that would automatically turn off lights when the door was locked from the outside.  As proposed, these switches would reduce energy usage without requiring a large change in habit on the part of the student.  In addition, this team was able to troubleshoot a solution to a roommate leaving the room while the other remained.

Members of the Lower Divorce Rate Team: Joseph Zarraga, Sara Feldman, Roberto Carrasco, Kara Kurk and Chaz Yancey

After identifying as their “wicked problem” this relatively high rate of divorce in the United States, this team proposed the inclusion of a “Healthy Relationships” class in the standard curriculum for all high school students.  This course would pair students together to practice open communication skills and problem solving methods.  Not afraid of a challenge, this team also drafted a piece of legislation that, if adopted, would raise the age of consent for marriage.

Not Pictured: Team High School Triathalon

This team proposed the development of a club team for Red Clay School District High Schools that would encourage at-risk youth to train for and participate in triathalon events.  Participation in training and events was proposed as a means of building team camaraderie and self-confidence in participants from a wide range of backgrounds.