Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Today our InvenTeam traveled to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to meet with professors, PhD candidates, college students and members from other InvenTeams and FIRST Robotics teams from all over New York State. We started out with a tour of R.P.I. facilities including their centrifuge which can simulate forces up to one hundred times the earths' gravitational force, and a scaled wind tunnel where we learned about airflow and the effects of surface area on an object in motion. After the tour we made our way to the state of the biotechnology building for a discussion with current R.P.I. students about their experiences at the college and co-op programs. Then Aaron, Liam, and Sam presented to the other InvenTeams and FIRST teams about our progress thus far this year. We were followed by the Berlin team who had a wonderful video describing their project and progress. Their device to help the blind and hearing impaired while being active in sports such as skiing is very impressive! Next we were taken to the auditorium to see the presentation of the Lemelson-MIT awards. Before the ceremony we were able to learn about each finalists work, as well as meet them and ask questions. This was very inspiring for an aspiring engineer to see the work that many would think impossible come to fruition. During the ceremony we engaged in telecommunications with M.I.T. as well as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the recognition of finalists and award winners.

The winner of the Lemelson-MIT award at R.P.I for 2012 was Fazel Yavari! His work included the engineering of a small sensor to detect NH3 and NO2 emissions that could be harmful. The sensor uses graphene foam which is essentially a sheet specifically arranged carbon atoms that is thin and ultra sensitive. When in the presence of NH3 the graphene foam changes resistivity alerting observers to the presence of the dangerous gas. The sensor is so sensitive that it can detect .5 parts per million of NH3 and NO2 which is far less than any existing sensor. It is also very cost effective as each 17 X 22 cm sheet of graphene foam can make 400 sensors. This sensor will help protect the environment as well as assist national security forces to detect the deadly substance quickly.
I was stunned by the work of these amazing engineers. They are the next leaders of our world, it was awe inspiring to be in their company and converse with them if just for a few minutes. Hopefully one of our InvenTeam members will be able to change the world as much as these men have, and we will get to see them receive a Lemelson-MIT award.

Posted by Emma Rocco