By BILL ZAN
On October 15, 2014, the Lemelson-MIT Program awarded 15 teams up to $10,000 each in grant funding as part of its 2014-2015 InvenTeam initiative. These teams will pursue invention projects that address real-world problems. University High School (UHS) students comprised one of those teams, reaping $9,680 in grant money to build an aerial wilderness distress monitor and search system. The system will include an autonomous fixed-wing aircraft, a mobile data-receiving base station and a distress-signal-emitting radio wristband. University High School’s team is partnering with OC Makerspace for the project. The team will showcase their project at EurekaFest, an event to honor young inventors, in June 2015. UHS’s team is led by Tinh Tran (Science Department), the STEM coach who began the InvenTeam last spring.
The team members were delighted to recieve the grant. Team member Taymour Mowafak (Sr.) said, “It feels great to win the grant from MIT. We worked a lot during summer, changing our idea several times until we all agreed on the SAR (search and rescue) drone. The team looks forward to constructing the project and launching it. It will not be an easy task, but the team has the capability and knowledge to make it.”
The team began work on the project over the summer, meeting twice a week. The project is currently in the early stages of development. There are three subdivisions of UHS’s team—one group is developing beacons and towers that will relay information from the injured person to the drone, another group is coding a program to optimize the drone’s flight path and the third is designing and engineering the drone itself.
The team is currently looking for helpful resources. Member Matthew Lin (Sr.) said, “If anyone knows someone with expertise in coding, drones, or engineering, or works for a company that specializes in these areas, feel free to contact us. This experience is relatively new to all of the UHS InvenTeam, and we would really benefit from any experts or materials that come our way.”