UPDATE: University at Albany came in 1st place today at the CREATE symposium where college engineering students work with a non-profit partner to create inventions for individuals with disabilities to help them succeed in the workplace. They won $15,000 dollars for their creation. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) —  New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) announced the Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive Technology (CREATE) Symposium for 2022. The program lets college engineering students collaborate with rehabilitative support organizations that help those with disabilities succeed at their jobs.

College engineering students from around the state will demonstrate the inventions and innovations they’ve developed. A panel of community business leaders will evaluate and score the CREATE projects. Student teams will compete to receive prize funds worth $15,000 dollars, $10,000 dollars, or $5,000 dollars, to be split between students, their universities, and their rehabilitation organization partners.

This year, there are nine teams from five colleges and five NYSID member rehabilitation organizations each presenting their assistive technology. Members of the New York State Legislature are slated to attend and speak at CREATE.

“In New York State, 67% of people with disabilities are not employed or are underemployed. The CREATE Symposium offers an opportunity for students to build a specially designed invention that can go a long way toward helping an individual become more productive in the workplace,” said Maureen O’Brien, NYSID CEO. “Not only does it showcase part of what we do at NYSID, it allows for innovation from college students to help make it easier for our member organizations to employ people with disabilities.”

SUNY Albany’s Paper Shredder Disposal System invention is in good use at the Center for Disability Services! One of the shredders in the mail fulfillment affirmative business is difficult to empty. The process currently used is to place a cart with two bags under the shredder, wait until they are full, then remove the bags, lift them and throw all the paper into another box. Often, a worker with a disability has difficulty lifting the bag without assistance, reducing the worker’s productivity. The goal of the project is to make the process easier by allowing the worker to dispose of the paper through an automatic process, resulting in more efficiency.

This is a capstone project for many involved engineering students, though many said that it means a lot more than a good grade. “When you get to know the people who you’re working with, how much it has changed their lives, the impact of it—it’s really great,” said Guillermo Esteban, a UAlbany Engineering Student.

“People will disabilities are great problem solvers. At the end of the day, that’s what we are because we live in an enabled-bodied world. You take real problems and you have problem solvers that come together with engineers and with some of the best youngest minds, you’re going to get great inventions,” said John Robinson, the president and CEO of Our Ability, Inc.