The Span design team of College of California Arts (CCA) students Nicholas Steigmann and Maiya Jensen won this year’s Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge’s coveted $10K first prize, competing against design teams from 31 universities and 11 countries. The Design Challenge is an annual international competition sponsored by Stanford University’s Center on Longevity. The Stanford Center supports studies of the human life span, and searches for innovations to solve the challenges of the aging population in order to improve the well-being of all ages.

This year’s Design Challenge focused on enabling and maintaining mobility with age. Lawrence Shubert, ZIP Principal, and Lucie Richter, Senior Partner at Future Health Systems and Adjunct Professor at CCA mentored the highly motivated student design team through a human-centered research and design program focused on the mobility challenge. Steigmann and Jensen immersed themselves into the lives of people with functional limitations visiting their homes as well as assisted living facilities, and honed in on the serious need to get back up from the ground after a fall. After iterative prototyping and testing, the team expanded the framework to include getting down to, as well as getting back up from, the floor in order to enable older adults to play with their grandchildren, engage in hobbies, exercise, and reach objects close to the ground.

The exploration resulted in Span-- a portable device that allows older adults and people with functional limitations to reclaim the floor with confidence. The design concept is dignifying and easy to use while providing peace of mind for users and caregivers. Shubert and Richter are very proud of the team’s accomplishment, and they are particularly impressed with Steigmann’s and Jensen’s persistence and passion throughout the process. The mentor/student team plans to continue development of the product and build a company around innovative mobility devices to improve the lives of older adults and people with limited functional abilities.

Congratulations to Nick and Maiya!