Students Engineer for Social Impact through ON Semiconductor Grant
At ON Semiconductor, we value the opportunity to innovate and use technology for positive social impact, in whatever form that may be. Alongside developing and manufacturing key technologies that power society, we are also dedicated to supporting technology education and community impact work through grant-making.
In late 2019, our Global Giving team approved grant funding for ACCEL, a private, nonprofit organization that serves children and adults who have developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, behavioral disorders and cognitive disabilities. ACCEL provides an array of educational, therapeutic, behavioral, and employment services for individuals who have developmental disabilities across the Phoenix metro area. This grant aimed to support the Assistive Technology Project, a collaboration between ACCEL and the engineering program at Phoenix Union’s Bioscience High School, which engages engineering students in an internship program focused on developing uniquely adaptive toys and devices for ACCEL participants. Participating ACCEL students include K-12 learners with autism spectrum disorder, behavioral disabilities and cognitive disorders.
By adapting toys and devices to address the functional needs of ACCEL students, expanded participation in social and educational activities helps to promote well-being and development. In addition, understanding grows between ACCEL participants and interns as they interact throughout the engineering process. An exciting project led by a group of Bioscience High School students focuses on creating a fully switch-adapted Connect 4 game that includes various switch adaptations such as buttons, joysticks and retina scanning capabilities.
According to Johan Andrade, team lead and Bioscience High School engineering student:
“I am very interested in this project for the reason that I wanted kids with disabilities to have the same access to table top games as people without disabilities. I have worked on projects before that were dedicated to kids with disabilities and seeing them have fun with the busy boards that I worked on was really inspiring. It made me want to keep working on projects that would make them smile.”
To expand its reach, the team intends to continue developing the project in the future by utilizing the makerspace at Bioscience High School to manufacture more games for other communities.
As a culminating experience of the Assistive Technology Project, ACCEL hosts an annual three-day event of fun and adaptive games called ACCEL Days, with this year’s theme being “adapted carnival.” Over 200 students attended in February 2020 to engage in an array of engaging carnival activities, all of which were developed by students from Bioscience High School. Activities included an adapted dunk tank, baseball station and switch-controlled animal toys.
Jessie Bustamante, Chief Advancement Officer of ACCEL, explained how this program allows Bioscience students to see what a different type of engineering career can look like outside of high school. Many of those involved gain insight into the various ways to develop technology that contributes to helping others, and gain a desire to continue as they move on to university. Although this program currently engages only high school students, first-year students from the local university have also expressed interest in interning with the program. With this expanded interest and possibility for wider engagement, ACCEL hopes to expand the program in the future.
ON Semiconductor is happy to support ACCEL in the important and innovative work they do to advance educational and recreational opportunities for their students. By connecting these two populations of learners, the possibilities to create positive social impact through engineering and technology are endless!
For more information about ACCEL and their dedication to serving those who have developmental disabilities, please visit https://www.accel.org/.
Read more about how ON Semiconductor continues to make positive impact on communities through the ON Semiconductor Foundation.