Advanced Manufacturing master’s students innovate solutions during COVID-19 crisis

Three Advanced Manufacturing master’s students were awarded Most Innovative Design for their team’s solution to the COVID-19 Maker Challenge: First Responders, the first of five events in a program designed to find innovative solutions to challenges faced by essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem and Challenge America (a veteran nonprofit) partnered to develop the challenge, which was sponsored by America Makes.

Steven Sullivan, Noah Mostow and Kelly Pickering competed in the Connected Cruiser challenge, one of eight challenges in the first virtual maker event. The challenges were selected from ideas submitted by police, fire and paramedic units across the country. Their task was to redesign a police cruiser laptop mounting system that would allow officers in the rural community of Basalt, Colorado, to work from their cruisers to socially distance from other officers at the station and to limit the driving required to return to the station to complete administrative tasks. The team included three more members from Massachusetts, Tennessee and Arizona.

Two of the biggest design constraints in the challenge were the cost and speed of production for the part. “Our solution has proven to dramatically reduce the cost of cruiser mounts and allows us to spread the production efforts across a decentralized maker community,” Pickering said.

The three Mines team members credited what they learned in their Advanced Manufacturing courses. “We applied practical knowledge to our solution from a software and production standpoint that allowed us to iterate quickly,” said Pickering. “Because of this we were able to design a solution that will help not only the Basalt PD but also many other rural communities.”

Pickering said that the challenge gave the team valuable insights into the production process, from concept to prototype to final production, and how to scale a product with a small, dispersed group in a short amount of time.

Learn more about the Maker Challenge, the organizations behind it and other innovative solutions in this article in The Aspen Times.