Berry College students took to HackBerry Lab Wednesday for a Prototyping Open House, showcasing the technology and projects they’ve fabricated as part of the creative technologies program.
Zane Cochran, a creative technologies instructor, said around 120 students presented over 150 projects for the culminating event of four classes: introduction to prototyping, a vehicles course, rapid prototyping and intermediate design studio.
Tables inside the lab were filled with student creations, like a chibi kart with Nerf guns on the sides, a globe with tiny fiber optic lights recreating a satellite image of the Earth at night, or a homemade break-in alarm.
Senior Benji Britt had two items on display. He used pallet wood to make a frame for a topographic map of greater Rome. After drilling tiny holes in the wood, he put LED lights in them to create a scattered lighting effect surrounding the map.
Also, in expanding upon his woodworking background, he made a light-up resin table, which has programmable neo-pixel LED lights so he can control the variations of color beneath the resin surface. The creative technologies program gave him a good excuse to experiment with what he has fallen in love with doing, he said.
Britt said most people don’t have the basic skills for coding, welding or woodworking. However, by taking a creative technologies course, it acts as a motivating force to not only learn the fundamentals of these trades but develop something of their own from it.
In a room over from Britt was sophomore Andrew Myers, sharing details about two pieces of technology to help deaf and blind people.
His special-hearing glasses will emit a pulse on its ends to help a deaf person better find the direction from which someone is speaking to them.
Microphones on the glasses were programmed to pick up an average-voice range, Myers said. And whichever microphone — left or right — is picking up a voice, the corresponding motor will buzz, denoting the direction from which a voice originated. The motor will continue to buzz until the wearer is facing someone, he added.
Myers said he wanted to challenge himself and get into a more technology-oriented project, instead of submitting to what he already knows how to do well, like carpentry.
His second project involved a program, which is ready for Android devices, that is aimed at providing blind people with audio of the words on worksheets or reading materials. A teacher can use his program, which involves turning the alphabet into a color-coded font, to convert a document into audio.
A four-person group — Joshua Cutter, Mason Brown, Ryan Sepe and Emily Smith — in the intermediate design studio course partnered with Cevian Design Lab to find a solution to drainage issues on flat-roofed buildings. Their flood gate prototype helps to alert maintenance staff that there is a significant amount of standing water on a roof and that something should done to correct a drainage issue. Their device fits into a drainage pipe, and if standing water reaches a certain level, an alert message is sent to a user, like a maintenance worker, regarding the pending problem.
Brown said the group had to overcome some coding barriers that come with sending messages between a small computer and a cellphone tower.
Another group in this course worked with the college’s admissions office to find a way to give prospective students a better feel and knowledge of Berry’s massive campus — because they just can’t see it all in one visit. An interactive topographic map, in the shape of a pinball machine, was what students came up with.
A projector screens a map down onto the foam core and plaster surface. Users can then search through a touch screen, select a specific building or place on campus, and a revolving green circle will spin around the given location. Video footage from that location is then projected onto the surface of the map, giving viewers a greater sense of what each place is beyond the paragraphs of details appearing on the touch screen.
Student Hunter Tracy said he handled the programming of the projector and touch screen, while his fellow students — Sidney McAdams, Rory Fleming and Adey Duncan — handled drawing out the projected map, laser cutting the foam core and covering it in plaster before sanding it down. The group started from nothing, he added.
It’s likely this map will meet its intended purpose by finding a permanent location in the admissions center, Tracy said.