Weekly Memo

Oct. 22, 2012

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

   It's always exciting when great ideas generated by Hajim School faculty and students near fruition.

  For example, two projects with Hajim School connections recently got a big boost from Innovocracy. Launched with backing from UR, RIT, and Cornell and Clarkson universities, Innovocracy is a  crowdfunding platform that links academic researchers with members of the public who are willing to provide seed money to bring promising, small-scale designs to market. And it's working!  A toilet-training device for children with autism, developed by Daniel Mruzek, associate professor of pediatrics, and Stephen McAleavey, associate professor of biomedical engineering, received $9,457 from 54 sponsors. And the mono-mano control device that allows users with only one functioning arm to operate a recumbent tricycle, received $6,114 from 28 sponsors.  The device was designed by biomedical engineering students Travis Block, Sara Hutchinson, Dominic Marino, David Narrow, and Martin Szeto. This novel approach to funding will enable both devices to reach the marketplace, and benefit people in need.

    Here's another great idea that is moving forward: John B. Hinkel III, '14, who is pursuing a double major in computer science and Spanish, has developed a device that allows paraplegics to control their wheelchairs with gentle head movements. John's patent proposal has been published; he'll learn by April whether the U.S. Patent Office will award him a full patent. Good luck with that, John.

    Here's someone worth listening to: Randy Essex ’75, executive vice president and director of tunnels with Hatch Mott MacDonald, will discuss his experiences planning, designing, and managing more than 150 underground tunnel projects worldwide at 2 p.m. today in Dewey Hall 2-110D.

     Another competition that Hajim students might want to tackle has been brought to my attention: The International Robotic Sailing Competition for university students, which began in 2006. Teams create an unmanned sailboat that navigates through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control. Sounds like fun! Interested students can contact Ted Pawlicki.

     The ASME chapter from RIT managed launches of 300 feet or more from their air-powered Tiger Cannon at Friday's annual pumpkin launch, which was part of the Engineering and Applied Sciences Celebration. But I hear that one of the best shots of the afternoon was by Team T. Swizzle of our own Department of Mechanical Engineering. A pumpkin launched from their wooden trebuchet sailed directly over a target 200 feet away and landed just seven feet beyond, helping the team garner the most accurate award. That's what I like from my engineering students: Precision! Cheers also for the UR Upward Bound Pumpkin Apocalypse team, which also participated.

    One of the joys of this job is hearing about all the interesting things members of the Hajim community are up to. So have a great week and, as always, keep me posted!


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean