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Melissa Labrie '07 Honored for Invention That Assists Workers with Disabilities

Posted August 5, 2007

labrie.gifSchool of Engineering graduate Melissa Labrie ’07 presented her award-winning design project, a tool for workers with hand disabilities, in Washington, D.C. at the annual NISH Grassroots Advocacy conference in June.

Labrie, pictured at left showing a Goodwill Industries employee how to use her invention, finished second in the non-profit agency’s 2007 National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design for her project “Improved Tape Cutting Process.” Labrie won $5,000 for her efforts and was a special guest at a congressional reception at the Capitol building.

NISH (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped) is a non-profit agency established in 1974 to create job opportunities for people with severe disabilities. College teams from across the country registered for the National Scholar Award, a competition for college students to build technologies that help people with disabilities complete tasks at their place of employment. Labrie’s project involved creating an assistive tool for workers at Goodwill Industries designed to help employees with limited mobility or one hand to cut tape safely and efficiently. The fixture is currently being used at the Goodwill facility in Hartford, CT.

“It is inspiring to see that so many students have taken an interest in learning about the daily challenges encountered by people with disabilities,” says Bob Chamberlin, CEO of NISH. “We couldn’t be happier with all of this year’s entries, all the teams exemplified the goals of this program—to create creative technological solutions to break down the barriers facing people with disabilities trying to enter or advance in the workforce.” Along with Labrie’s $5,000 prize, the Western New England College Industrial Engineering department and Goodwill Industries of Springfield/Hartford received $5,000 each. Labrie earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, summa cum laude.


Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1919. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University serves 3,955 students, including 2,575 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and School of Law.


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