Waggies by Maggie & Friends, a nonprofit dog treat company founded to employ workers with intellectual disabilities, had a problem.
When the company’s all-natural, vet-approved treats made with no preservatives were ready for packaging, some workers had difficulty dealing with the numbers on the scales. Some bags would be heavy; others would be very light.
Then some students from Concord High School’s SourceAmerica Design Challenge team stepped in.
The student volunteers set to learning how scales work and what would work best for the 12 workers at Waggies by Maggie. They designed a custom scale that displays a green happy face when a bagful is just right.
The Concord team took its scale to 2017 Source America Design Challenge where 160 high school and college teams competed in a national engineering contest for designs that help people with disabilities improve their productivity in the workplace.
They made it to the semi-finals. It was the third time in four years that a Concord team made it to the semi-finals. Last year’s team walked away as national champions.
This year’s team of nine seniors and two sophomores will head to Washington, D.C. Saturday with their scale.
The students, coached by technology teacher Jordan Estock, are Justin DiGiovanni, Daniel Barnes, Dylan McAllister, Joshua Stone, Tatyana Nesterova, Rowan Davis, Michael Zullo, Matias Saavedra Silva, Nicholas Reith, Surya Shakamuri and Abhinav Ratnagiri.
Charissa Garcia of Source America said the students involved in the competition create projects that truly eliminate barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
“All of our students go out of their way to help individuals with disabilities, which always pulls on the heartstrings,” said Garcia. “I really enjoyed how well the Concord students listened to their [nonprofit.] They really found a good way to address a problem. They made something small and easy to use.”