SOLIDWORKS had the pleasure of attending Lemelson-MIT’s EurekaFest, where fifteen teams of high school students, educators, and mentors presented their incredible inventions. The Lemelson-MIT program offers grants of up to $10,000 to student teams, called InvenTeams, to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.
The InvenTeams were from all over the United States, with students from as far away as Hawaii traveling to Cambridge, MA, to present at MIT. Projects ranged from a Bluetooth stethoscope with a self-cleaning carrying case, to a mosquito egg agitator, to a system that alerts first responders to people in distress in areas without cell reception, to a fully automated chicken coop.
Many of the InvenTeams had members who passed the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate Sustainability exam, and teams from Fairview High school in Fairview, PA, and the St. Vrain Valley School District Innovation Center in Longmont, CO used SOLIDWORKS to design their prototypes. SOLIDWORKS is proud to be a sponsor of Lemelson-MIT student teams. Seeing all of the fascinating and thoughtful inventions and learning from the students was an invigorating and inspiring experience.
Educators play a huge role in the InvenTeams. Every year, hundreds of high school level teachers apply for an Excite Award. Up to 35 finalists are chosen and win an all-expense paid trip to MIT and EurekaFest, where they can learn about the InvenTeam process from the current teams, educators, and mentors. They can also examine prototypes, attend professional development sessions, and get feedback on their applications. From there, the educators return home to their own teams and they develop a final application. In October, the 15 InvenTeams are announced and teams have from October to June to complete their prototypes.
EurekaFest also hosts Master Teachers, a select group of experienced InvenTeam educators who provide peer-to-peer support for new InvenTeam teachers and mentors during their grant year. SOLIDWORKS was guided through the event by Master Teacher Ed Hernandez of Tustin, CA. Ed has been using SOLIDWORKS for years and uses it at school as well—the final exam in his Product Design and Engineering class is the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate Exam.
After EurekaFest, InvenTeams, Excite Award winning educators and Master Teachers gathered inside MIT’s Stratton Student Center to have a dinner of delicious barbeque and show appreciation for educators of the past and present. Following remarks by Invention Education Officer Leigh Estabrooks, Lemelson-MIT Executive Director Stephanie Crouch, and Harvard Business School Research Associate and InvenTeam Alum Carl Kreitzberg, the educators were honored. The 36 Excite Award winners were recognized. The educators who joined the InvenTeams were called upon to stand, to thunderous applause from their students. And finally, the Master Teachers were called to the podium to receive awards.
Katelyn Sweeney, a mechanical engineer at OneView and an InvenTeam alum honored her educator, Master Teacher Doug Scott. She espoused Mr. Scott’s excellent advice to all the current InvenTeams: “Fail often and fail early. You learn more from failure than success.” It’s words the teams knew well, and knew to take to heart.
There are now seven US patents awarded to InvenTeam projects. With such exciting and motivated students, we can’t wait to see what the InvenTeams of this year and beyond have in store for us.
Thank you to Lemelson-MIT, Leigh Estabrooks, Tony Perry, and Anthony Helou for inviting SOLIDWORKS to attend EurekaFest 2018. Special thank you to Ed Hernandez for his help and guidance. Finally, many thanks and good luck to all the InvenTeams and Excite Award winners who made the event what it was.