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Sierra College Students Invent for Social Good at Makerspace

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With the support of US Bank and the Sierra College Foundation, Sierra College Mechatronics students developed and presented projects designed to make a positive impact on the world at a showcase event held on May 22 held at Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College.

Vivian Raeside won first place for her “Solar-Powered Water Purification System,” David Ramey won second place for his “Mech 90 Rat Trap” and Barbara Nichols won third place for her “Automatic Cat Food Dispenser.”

The judges for the Mechatronics for Humanity Showcase were Lindsay Jackson and Jagdeep Sohanpal with US Bank; Eric Ullrich, Hacker Lab; Noelle Calvert, Sierra College Foundation; Alan Shuttleworth, Sierra College; and Steve Hunter, Sierra College Faculty Maker in Residence.

Last semester’s first prize winner, Adrian Cummings used the prize money to improve his Mechatronics for Humanity invention and enter Eagertronic Cyclights in the InfyMakers Awards Contest. The project was selected as a finalist. http://www.infymakers.com/finalists2017/

Raeside was inspired by her camping experiences to develop the Solar-Powered Water Purification System. “First the water is pumped through a filter that removes 99% of bacteria (such as e-coli) and protozoa (such as giardia),” said Raeside. “Then, it automatically stirs the water while a UV light destroys 99% of the remaining viruses, bacteria and protozoa. A sensor causes a warning light to turn on when the system runs out of water. The challenge is making it small enough to be portable.”

The students had access to Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College to help them with their projects. “Hacker Lab was a lifesaver,” said Raeside. “The people in the Hacker Lab community showed me how to use tools and helped me trouble shoot problems. I used the laser cutter to produce custom parts that I designed. It is open all day, every day so I always had a place to work on my project. I couldn’t have won this recognition without the support of Hacker Lab.”

Barbara Nichols discovered the Mechatronics program when she was on a tour of Career Technical Education programs with Del Oro High School students and they made hands-on projects. “We made flashlights in the Mechatronics laboratory and I was sold on the program,” said Nichols. “I have a computer programming background but I really wanted to work with my hands. The Mechatronics program was ideal and now that I have completed the final course, I am excited to find a position in advanced manufacturing.”

Nichols will be able to present her Automatic Cat Food Dispenser as an example of her skills in interviews. “Dry food can drop into the bowl in small, medium or large size portions,” said Nichols. “There is a real time clock that can be set to disperse food on 12 or 24 hour cycles. I had to code the servo motor to turn the wheel back and forth to unjam the kibble. If you are gone for a short period of time, want to control the food serving size or avoid forgetting to put out dry cat food, this invention would be a big help.”

According to Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Statewide Project Manager, CCC Maker, colleges across the state are building makerspaces and forging connections with industry partners to better prepare students for careers. “The Mechatronics for Humanity Showcase encourages students to think like entrepreneurs and pushes them to consider how their work can have social benefit and impact the wider community,” said Pepper-Kittredge.

The Mechatronics for Humanity project allows students to showcase everything they’ve learned while completing the Mechatronics program and prepares them for employment, explains Michael Halbern, Mechatronics Professor, Sierra College. “At a makerspace like Hacker Lab, students interact with engineers, learn to use specialized tools, and experience the real-world collaboration needed to turn ideas into reality,” said Halbern. “The support from industry partners like US Bank is essential for connecting students with careers.”

Sign up now for Mechatronics classes starting June 12 as well as fall classes that start August 22; go to the Sierra College website https://ssb.sierracollege.edu:8810/PROD/pw_sigsched.p_Search to learn more.

About Sierra College Workforce Development

Sierra College Workforce Development is focused on delivering customized training to meet the needs of employers. Additional information is available at www.sierracollegetraining.com.

(L to R) Michael Halbern, Sierra College; Eric Ullrich, Hacker Lab; Lindsay Jackson, US Bank; Barbara Nichols, Sierra College Mechatronics student; Jagdeep Sohanpal, US Bank; Vivian Raeside, Sierra College Mechatronics student; Steve Hunter, Sierra College Faculty Maker in Residence; and Alan Shuttleworth, Sierra College. David Ramey is on the screen behind them.

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