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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Design challenge gives students opportunity to create prototypes


Nearly 70 students, 20,000 square feet of workspace and 48 hours — the 2nd Aggies Invent, a two-day design challenge that gave students the chance to create prototypes meant to aid first responders, took place this weekend.
The teams gathered for the event at the Engineering Innovation Center and presented prototypes to a set of judges and first responders Sunday.
Rodney Boehm, EASA Industry Mentor, said the purpose of Aggies Invent is to challenge students to solve real-life problems related to the chosen theme.
“There are 27 needs that were identified by 11 first-responder organizations, ranging anywhere from dropping a GPS locator button to a victim after they have been located in the air to keeping police officers cool inside their vests, and so on,” Boehm said.
Boehm said the students are presented with different need statements at Friday’s kickoff event.
“They do a sort of speed-dating game,” Boehm said. “They go around and meet with all the representatives from the first-responder organizations and they are presented with the need statement of that organization, and they choose which need statement they want to focus on. The teams are formed based on the students who chose the same need statement.”
Julio Gonzales, computer science freshman, worked on a novel way to disable a fleeing vehicle. He said even if a team does not place in Sunday’s competition, the student can continue to work on their model if they choose to.
“On Thursday, if we choose to continue building, the first responders who gave us the need statement will let us know what resources they have available for us to build the real thing,” Gonzales said. “My team is working on a way to stop a fleeing vehicle for police officers, so the police officers told us that they would offer us two cars to work with if we choose to continue, which we definitely will.”
Gonzales said the goal of his project is to build something police officers can easily operate.
“A lot of people wanted to make really extravagant things when they chose their need statement,” Gonzales said. “But we only have 48 hours. So my team wanted to make something that a police officer can use without it being too complicated. We want it to be practical and safe.”
Melissa McNeill, computer science senior, worked with a team to develop a GPS button that can be dropped to a victim to identify their location. McNeill said Aggies Invent is about more than winning the competition.
“This is still an awesome thing to put on a resume and a great experience,” McNeill said. “I think that’s why most of us are doing it.”
Boehm said he feels the students benefit from the event by learning skills critical to their career fields.
“I think it’s beneficial for every one of them, freshman or PhD student,” Boehm said. “You learn how to work with what you’ve got and use the resources and the skills of your teammates to the team’s advantage. It’s a great experience.”
Elias Rosedahl, mechanical engineering sophomore, said although he didn’t know his teammates prior to Friday evening, he still feels they have worked together well together.
“I mean, we’re all here for the same thing and we want the same thing, so we’ve worked really well together to get there even though we don’t know each other very well,” Rosedahl said.
The team Vapor Space took first place for their invention a multipurpose tool. The creation combines five tools used by responders in hazmat suits, including a hammer, scraper, and various wrenches.
The team Vapor Space took first place for its invention — a multipurpose tool. The creation combines five tools used by responders in hazmat suits, including a hammer, scraper and various wrenches.
Photo by Vanessa Peña

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