DB Engineers place top five in nation

After designing a device to benefit workers with disabilities, the DB Engineers have claimed one of the top five finalist spots in Source America’s 2019 national Design Challenge.

“I felt really relieved because we put a lot of hard work into this and a lot of time, so I was just kind of satisfied to know all of work came to this one result, and we are able not only to place top five in the nation, but also help people with disabilities,” junior Jonathan Tan said.

For this nationwide high school competition, teams partnered with a company to design an engineering device that would help workers with disabilities  increase their productivity and efficiency. The teams then had to submit a documentation of the process, paperwork with 3D models and a video.

The DB Engineers team consists of five members: Diamond Bar High School  sophomore Cathleen Chen and juniors Tan, Ryan Lou and Jay Yu, along with Rowland High School junior Nathan Jong. DBHS engineering teacher Johnny Hwang introduced the Source America competition to the team a few years ago, and now CSU Los Angeles engineering professor Dr. Paul Liu coaches students through the competition process.

DB Engineers partnered with the non-profit organization Opportunity Village, which is based in Las Vegas, and visited the location to find out what the workers were struggling with the most. The workers at Opportunity Village help package, check, clean, refurbish and repackage remote controls. They also receive and clean cables, which are then wrapped and shipped out again.

“One of the directors told us that they mainly focused on wrapping cables and cleaning remotes, and we thought if we could create something that would help them wrap it faster and more efficiently then it would be our top priority of our project,” Chen said.

Their “Turn for a Change” project idea was to decrease the time workers needed to wrap cables and clean remotes by creating efficient appliances for that specific job. To accomplish this, the team attached a board to a table and connected a microfiber brush to the board to create a remote cleaner that allowed workers to clean remotes with the use of one arm. Their cable machine, called the cable wrapper, had an electric motor attached to prongs and was composed of plastic. The workers could fix the cables to one of the prongs, which was connected to a foot pedal, so that they only needed to use one hand to wrap the cable.

“We had to brainstorm the entire idea, and we had to build it ourselves,” Lou said. “We are only students and didn’t exactly have access to heavy machinery or anything, so we built most of it by hand in our garages.”

The final round of the competition will take place from April 8-10 in Washington D.C., where the five finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges and will present a live demonstration of their creation. They will be judged by how passionate they are about their project and the impact their device will have in a working environment.