April 1, 2016

 

 

On March 1st, Williamston once again awakened to news that is usually cause for rejoice: a truly beautiful snow day.  This time, though, our team wasn’t so happy.  Our Mid-Grant Review was scheduled for that night, and we were geared up and ready to go after many hours of preparation.  One learns soon enough, however, that Michigan weather is far beyond our control, and alas, we succumbed to the snowstorm, counted our losses, and called Take 2.  Although frustrating, rescheduling our MGTR led us to the silver lining of having 22 more days to make Project HANDL even better when we presented to our community on the 23rd.

Sarah and Anna, our Administrative and Public Relations Leads, were kept especially busy as we prepared for our original and rescheduled MGTR.  They both put countless hours into sending (and resending) invitations to hundreds of community members, business owners, and stakeholders in engineering and education.  They also worked on planning the presentation and speaking with local media, along with many other miscellaneous tasks that came up in preparation. Just because she needed one more job, Sarah has also begun planning our trip to Boston.  In addition to preparing for EurekaFest, we are planning on being some of the best tourists Boston has seen, from going whale watching to walking the Freedom Trail.

After cramming to have a HANDL prototype featuring our laser technology ready by March 1st, our engineers have spent the past month evolving HANDL beyond a basic prototype.  The laser team has been perfecting the laser and photo resistor system, in addition to creating a laser mount.  The challenge in this lies in positioning the mount at the perfect angle so the laser will reflect on the locker dial.  Additionally, an accelerometer will be located within the mount, which allows the student more freedom in the method in which they place the HANDL device onto the locker dial.  However, the accelerometer has to be programmed into the existing programming of the device, and this has turned out to be a major challenge for us this month.  The engineers have made recent progress in the programming of our Raspberry Pi, but there is still quite a bit of work ahead.  Finally, we have been exploring employing springs on the motor to work with magnets to achieve an ideal pressure on the dial grasp.  This is super important for the usability of the device, as the springs eliminate the need for the user to exert the exact right amount of pressure onto the dial.  We hope to have this implemented within the next month.

Working on the laser technologyWorking on the laser technologyKepler programmingKepler programming

The inner-workings of HANDLThe inner-workings of HANDL

In other awesome news, we have raised over $13,500 through our fundraising efforts!  We are overwhelmed and so grateful for the support we have received from community groups, family members, and everyone else who has shown an interest and helped make Project HANDL a reality.  Most recently, we presented to the Williamston chapter of the Kiwanis Club on March 29th.  We had a great time and are very grateful for the enthusiastic support we received.  Next month, we are excited to present to the East Lansing chapter of the Kiwanis Club.

Support from the Kiwanis ClubSupport from the Kiwanis ClubEmma, Garrett, and Jess; Kiwanis ClubEmma, Garrett, and Jess; Kiwanis Club

Opportunities to share and garner support for our project have continued to grow through local media opportunities.  Recently, we were interviewed again by Kevin Lavery for WKAR Public Radio and featured in a segment on Current State.  Additionally, the Lansing State Journal interviewed our engineers on the 24th for a technical update on our project.  WLNS Channel 6 News also covered our Mid-Grant Review, leading to our second television appearance. :)  Each radio, newspaper, and television interview has brought great exposure to our project and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to promote the InvenTeam Program and Project HANDL.

Justin speaking to Kevin Lavery, WKARJustin speaking to Kevin Lavery, WKARShowing off HANDL to WKARShowing off HANDL to WKAR

Garrett speaking to WLNSGarrett speaking to WLNSAnna preparing for her interviewAnna preparing for her interview

This month, Jess, one of our engineers, took on a second role as Sustainability Lead and began extensively researching eco-friendly solutions to our project.  Immediately, we realized several ways to make our process better, including learning how to properly dispose of the used resin from our FormOne printer, which is toxic when liquefied.  Additionally, as we have worked with Bekum America Corporation on the housing of our device, we have discussed the sustainability of our housing decisions.  Rather than using a plastic case, our casing will be constructed of thin aluminum sheets.  This offers several advantages: aluminum is light to hold, easily recyclable, and is sturdier and will last longer.  Introducing sustainability to our project is a very cool step and we are excited to learn more in the upcoming months.

Eventually, March 23rd rolled around and, despite yet another weather scare, the Mid-Grant Review was a major success.  We are proud to say that we welcomed over 100 people into McGoff Auditorium at Williamston High School to learn about InvenTeams and Project HANDL.  Although Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley was unfortunately not able to attend the review, he was kind enough to record a video message for our team to display.  Finally, getting to share Project HANDL with our families, community members, stakeholders, teachers, and friends after a lot of hard work was truly awesome, and the positive reinforcement and constructive feedback we received was a great motivator to continue improving our project.

Anna speaking at the MGTRAnna speaking at the MGTRLt. Gov. Brian CalleyLt. Gov. Brian Calley

Ethan talking about engineeringEthan talking about engineeringJustin speaking at the MGTRJustin speaking at the MGTR

Kelley and Sarah at financesKelley and Sarah at financesKelley speaking at the MGTRKelley speaking at the MGTR

Our team at the MGTROur team at the MGTRInteracting with the communityInteracting with the community

Greeting guests at the MGTRGreeting guests at the MGTR
Looking ahead, we have many exciting challenges in our future.  First and foremost, we met with Trent English, a patent attorney who has agreed to help us through the patent process for the HANDL device free of charge.  Following EurekaFest, we are planning to meet with him again to continue the process of filing our patent.  Additionally, as we receive our new housing design from Bekum America Corporation we hope to have some potential users of HANDL try the new device to see what works and what doesn’t, using that feedback to move forward with our final housing design.

Meeting with Trent EnglishMeeting with Trent English

As they say, all’s well that ends well, and this InvenTeam would have to agree.  Thanks for reading, and make sure to stay updated via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  Cheers to April!