Occupational therapy students from CUWOccupational therapy students from CUW

For the second straight year in a row, occupational therapy students from Concordia University Wisconsin placed first in the Ergonomics Design Competition for Student Teams, an international ergonomic competition sponsored by Auburn Engineers, Inc. that allows students to assess and design solutions to challenging problems in the workplace. The Concordia team, made up of students Robert Bradford, Greta Kucher, Haley Ott, and Rachel Rodia, registered for the competition in September as the lone occupational therapy team.

“It is very exciting to see that our occupational therapy students are able to demonstrate their knowledge by successfully competing in Auburn Engineers ergonomic design competition against engineering students,” said Dr. Carrie Scheel, professor of occupational therapy and the team’s advisor. “The many late nights, creative problem solving, and an eye for detail were able to help them win the competition.”

The students competed against 40 other teams from schools such as Purdue University, Texas A&M University, and University of Michigan. Team members spent October and November assessing ergonomic risk factors in workplaces, writing solutions, and recommending specific designs through the creation of drawings, videos, and prototypes.

Although the competition was run by Auburn, all work was preformed locally by students and submitted electronically.

“One of the major challenges we had to overcome was working around each of our schedules,” said Rodia. “We had to work efficiently together in order to prepare and submit quality work for the preliminary problem by the due date.”

After two months of hard work, the team tuned in to the online awards ceremony on Dec. 6 and received word that they had won.

“Participating in this competition with my teammates was an absolutely wonderful experience,” said Rodia. “We drew from each of our strengths to create all of our final products, and we all worked very well together.

For taking first place, the team received a traveling award statue for one year in addition to a team plaque, individual certificates, and the invitation to attend the Applied Ergonomics Conference in Orlando, Florida in March. To help offset costs, each student also received $300 for traveling expenses.

“We are excited to attend the Applied Ergonomics Conference in March as the only university to ever receive the award two years in a row,” said Scheel.

For more information on the occupational therapy program or the Ergonomics Design Competition, contact Scheel at CarrieJo.Scheel@cuw.edu or 262-243-4296.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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