BCAT students hold Engineering Design Showcase

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William Byrd student Brennan Greene, who is also a student in the engineering program at BCAT, participated in the Engineering Design Showcase on January 23. One of his projects involved drones.
Students Austin Meadows (left) and Brennan Greene explained their Assistive /Universal Walk-in Bathtub Door design to guests at the engineering showcase.

Senior Engineering students at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) held their Engineering Design Showcase on January 23.

William Byrd High School student Brennan Greene is one of those students. He attends classes at both BCAT and WBHS.

He was on two teams who developed projects to showcase real-world solutions to specific challenges, thus designating the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in their education.

Susheela Shanta, Director of the Center for Engineering at BCAT, said that student teams have about six weeks to develop their projects from start to finish.

One of the projects Greene helped develop– the Assistive/Universal Walk-in Bathtub Door Opener– was inspired by his grandmother. Greene and fellow team members Nick St. Pierre and Austin Meadows discovered through their research that 15 percent of all bathroom falls are related to bath or toilet transfers. Walk-in bathtubs present the risk of falling for elderly individuals when they need to open the door. The height of the entry door causes the elderly person to bend over, which may lead to a fall. Therapists have recommended that individuals with walk-in tubs should acquire and use a technical aid to help them enter and exit the tub.

The team designed and constructed a drill-powered door opener as one solution to this dilemma. It uses the torque of the drill to turn a spool that winds up a Para-cord to pull the door open. The team concluded that while this model works, various improvements are needed for better functioning, such as improved waterproofing, cord covering to reduce the risk of tripping, making it wireless, and improving its aesthetics. One requirement of this project was that a 3D printer had to be used to create one of the parts.

Greene’s other project was Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) “Sense and Avoid.”  Learning that a major cause of UAV crashes (65 percent) is the result of human error, they decided to develop new systems to prevent those human mistakes by introducing “sense and avoid” systems to decrease the number of accidents.

Their design combined LiDAR and ultrasonic distance sensors to “sense” obstructive items in the UAV’s path and to determine an action to avoid the obstructive object. LiDar measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a laser light. This project has increasing relevance because of the use of drones by the military and even for deliveries by companies such as Amazon.

This project will be displayed at regional competition at Virginia Tech on March 7 as part of the Virginia Department of Education Student-Led-Ideation Challenge (SLIC).

According to the VDOE, the SLIC program engages students to work on real world problems that impact the communities they live in as well as the global community at large, while teaching them the skills they need to prepare for college and the workforce.

Greene is the son of Tracy and Anthony Greene.