Find a problem, develop a solution. That was the task given to Shaker High School seniors Brennan Jelstrom and Kevin Lindsay in their Engineering Capstone class. Over the course of a year, Jelstrom and Lindsay worked together on a project that has now landed them national accolades.
The idea began before the project was even assigned. Lindsay says he and his mother were back to school shopping last summer, when they both heard a woman scream.
“It turned out to be a mother who forgot her child in the back seat of the car,” said Lindsay. “Just that scream, that shriek, rings in my head. We came up with this project because personally, I don’t want to hear that scream again. I don’t want anyone to feel that feeling again.”
Together, as part of their engineering capstone project, Lindsay and Jelstrom created “PACAS”, a Passive Animal and Child Alarm System.
“It’s a motion sensor on the underside of the roof of a vehicle that detects the motion of an infant or an animal inside the vehicle,” said Jelstrom. “It then sends a message to the driver and alerts them that they’re in the vehicle.”
Jelstrom and Lindsay say the goal of their project is to prevent unnecessary deaths of infants and animals inside unattended vehicles due to extreme temperature changes.
They presented their idea, officially titled, “The Passive Infrared Motion Sensor for Evading Infant and Animal Fatalities,” to a panel over the summer. From there, the next stop was the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference in Florida, (I/ITSEC) where Jelstrom and Lindsay earned first place, and the Future Leaders Pavilion award. Their project went up against eight other schools nationwide.
“Honestly, I didn’t believe it when they called us up to the podium,” said Lindsay.
“It was humbling,” added Jelstrom.
According to its founders, The Future Leaders Pavilion provides a venue for secondary school students to demonstrate technical projects they have developed which focus on modeling, simulation and training.
While Jelstrom and Lindsay came home with the prestigious honor, they say their work is not done. Their next step is to make a business plan and further their prototype.
Currently, the alarm system has multiple sub-systems in it that communicate a sensor with a keychain that belongs to the driver. The keychain will alarm, vibrate or sound, to alert the driver that they forgot their baby or animal in the car.
“We are thinking about integrating not only the keychain aspect, but also a car alarm on the outside of the car, so that bystanders and pedestrians around the car also know there’s something wrong inside of the car,” said Lindsay.
Jelstrom, who plans to major in engineering and management, and Lindsay, who has his sights set on a biomedical engineering program, say the conference was extremely valuable. In addition to presenting their project, the students were also exposed to high-end technology being used around the world. This is the sixth year Shaker High School students have been able to attend the conference, thanks to a sponsorship by the Computer Science Corporation of America. The students attended the conference with their teacher, Kevin Smith.
Click here to see a video produced at the I/ITSEC.