May 12, 2017 by Maggie Fedorocsko
The 11th Philly Makers Meetup was held May 9 in the Quorum meeting space at the Science Center, exhibiting products from Drexel students and uniting inventors in the Philadelphia area.
According to the Philly Makers website, the purpose of the event was to help “makers” communicate and collaborate on their work.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Elisabeth Wagner, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student, said.
Though the event was originally planned for February, it was cancelled due to weather conditions. This turned out to be advantageous for Wagner and her group of four other mechanical engineering students since they were able to accomplish significantly more work in the past three months, she said.
Wagner and her group have worked hard for their senior project since September to create MANTA, the Multipurpose Aquatic Navigator & Trash Annihilator,, a patent-pending, autonomous watercraft that collects trash from the water’s surface.
Though the team does not think they’ll continue working on MANTA beyond the senior project requirements, Wagner says the product has extreme potential.
“There are tons of applications you could add,” she said to an audience of about 75 people, adding that ocean floor mapping features could be integrated as well as water testing abilities or vegetation trimming.
Another group of Drexel students took advantage of the Meetup to discuss their product called the Ballistic Curtain Cordon System, a potential solution for school shootings they also designed for their senior project. The team consists of three mechanical engineering students and one electrical engineering student.
The four seniors spent the past several months crafting a bullet-proof curtain that will be installable into any existing building and upon activation, can be unrolled from the ceiling in the presence of an active shooter.
James Ostman, a mechanical engineering student and former military member, says he owes the idea to his wife and a conversation they had about school shootings in the car one day.
However, the team hopes to implement the curtain in other settings as well, such as concert venues, marathons, clubs and other places that could use added protection.
“As it stands now, it works as it is,” Ostman said. “I would stand behind it as it is.”
While the team awaits patent approval, they are focusing on pinpointing potential stakeholders and using opportunities such as the Makers Meetup to spread word about their product.
Another product that was showcased was the Hyperloop, a mode of transportation promoted by Elon Musk that travels at high speed through depressurized tubes.
Musk organized the Hyperloop project to help make the idea practical, originally attracting 1,750 groups. Drexel’s version of the new transportation method made it to the top 31.
Frederick Wachter, team manager, explained how the system mimics the fast-moving tubes found at a bank drive-through.
“It has the efficiency of an airplane running like a train through a tube,” he said.
Wachter was one of the original members of the group, throughout the frequent member fluctuation of the experience. At one point, it was up to 90 students, though today membership is in the twenties.
Tern Water, represented by Mo Zerban, also made an appearance at the event, speaking about the improved Smart Faucet system that goes beyond providing users with water purification. Offering information about the user’s home water system, the attachment indicates how efficiently the household is using its water, the longevity of the filter, and how much water is consumed daily.
“It will be the smartest water product on the market,” Zerban said.
MANTA, BCCS, Hyperloop and Tern Water came to the front, each briefly presenting their products after manning tables in a science-fair fashion for an hour and a half.
Other startups including AnneLondon, Buckbear Knives, Human Augmentation, Arrow Electronics, NextFab and 215 also had tables set up.
Following the presentations, there was a panel with a representative from each of the four speaking groups, moderated by Chuck Sacco, director of the Baiada Institute.
Sacco discussed marketability and the high expectations associated with inventing products, before pointing out how incredible it was watching the groups to “go from nothing to something in a short amount of time.”
The next Philly Makers Meetup will be held June 13 at 5 p.m. in the same space and will focus on how “Star Trek” has profoundly changed our culture and led to progressive technological developments.