Engineering solutions: Project Lead the Way senior night competition

Matthew McLaughlin talks about his team’s invention, the Modu Helm, which incorporates Bluetooth technology, solar panel lighting, and a Go Pro mount, so that operators can use their electronic devices while safely steering their bike.



Future engineers filled the Southington High School auditorium on Wednesday, May 24 to demonstrate their inventions during the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) senior night event. Seven groups presented their final projects to friends, family, peers, and a panel of judges after months of research and design.

Southington was the first town in the state to implement a PLTW program and the first in the state to become accredited. PLTW prepares students to be successful in engineering and technology programs through project-based learning, leadership skills, and a comprehensive professional development program.

“They have each endured four rigorous years of Southington High’s engineering program, which focuses on science technology engineering and math,” said Justin Mirante, department leader and PLTW district coordinator.

For their senior capstone project, soon-to-be SHS graduates worked together to create mechanisms that add safety, accuracy, medical technology, and versatility to the world. They were evaluated by judges that included PLTW “founding father” John Ellsworth, Southington’s science curriculum coordinator John Duffy, a PLTW graduate who is now an engineer, and SHS faculty and department heads.

It was a close competition among the seven groups. “Border Patrol”—invented by Evan D’Agostino, Mateusz Gaciarz, Joshua Hilliard, and Brendan Taylor—is a sensor that improves the accuracy of volleyball calls made by referees because it detects exactly where the ball hit the ground.

“Impact Armor”—designed by Michael Loose, Turner Rodman, Matthew Sciota, and Stephen Vollaro—offers hockey players a safer helmet to properly protect them form head injuries.

Daniel Berube, Amanda Delorme, Matthew McLaughlin and Natalie Messner’s “Modu Helm” also created a helmet, but for bicyclists. It incorporates Bluetooth technology, solar panel lighting, and a Go Pro mount so that operators can use their electronic devices while safely steering their bike.

The “ZAT Case”—designed by Anthony Mondo, Connor Trzcinski and Michael Zera—solves Apple iPhone 7 users’ issue with the headphone jack. The case includes a built-in adapter and a kickstand to make cell phones more user-friendly.

Anthony D’Abramo, Andrew Premus, Jesse Rasten, and Nathan Simard tackled dugout inconveniences with the “Sun Strike.” The invention was inspired by a Southington baseball survey that found 87 percent of coaches and players report in-game inconveniences.

Brendan Shea, Brandon Stone, and Jeremy Spooner found that long term care patients develop pressure ulcers due to sustained strain on elderly patient’s skin. “Tri-Flate” is their solution to the problem, as it positions the body to prevent ulcers.

Of the 26 member capstone class, only six students were females, but it was the only all-female group in the mix that received first place. Ashley Nelson, Delaney Picard, Megan Walsh, and Natiya Washer won with their “Epi-Band,” a device that easily administers epinephrine when someone undergoes anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction).

Through their research, they found that 84 percent of American allergy patients, and guardians of the patients, have misused the traditional Epipen device, causing skin lacerations. Their device straps to a person’s leg before the medicine is injected. The patient never sees the needle, and misfires cannot occur because the device will not inject medicine until it is completely vertical, creating a 90 degree angle with the leg.

For their success, the girls went home with more than just first place bragging rights.

“This year we are going to be offering a $1,500 scholarship toward university expenses,” their teacher Kari Pesche-Luise said.

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