Capstone Sponsor Spotlight: Not Impossible Labs
The Capstone Design course is generously supported by numerous corporate partners and alumni. This weekly article series will highlight a few select sponsors, their projects and the student teams working on their projects.
This week’s spotlight sponsor is first-time Capstone Design sponsor, Not Impossible Labs. Not Impossible Labs is an award-winning laboratory that focuses on creating impactful and innovative technological solutions for people and communities in need. Every year, 1.5 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. The mission of this project, called Vaccine: Not Impossible, is to develop, pilot, and implement creative solutions that alleviate issues related to ‘Last Mile’ logistics and that aid in delivering vaccines to the millions who are left isolated from conventional efforts. The ‘Last Mile’ is the final distance between the vaccine distribution centers and most hard to reach areas. Pfizer has supported Not Impossible Labs to help create solutions to both get vaccines to people in ‘Last Mile’ communities and to get people to the vaccines. To date, Not Impossible Labs has hosted round table discussions and a 12 hour engineering hackathon to start brainstorming innovative ways to solve this issue. This semester, Not Impossible Labs is sponsoring two Mechanical Engineering teams. They are expecting the teams to create proofs of concept that can be later be used in pilot programs in Africa. Not Impossible Labs is making the impossible Not Impossible by working with a community of engineers, problem solvers, and creative minds.
Team 1: LifeBoat - Brian Decker, John Buffum, Shane Kearney, Nicholas Johnson, Sienna Creech, Richard Purdy
Problem: Getting Vaccines to the People: Not Impossible Labs is currently focusing on transporting vaccines to people in remote areas utilizing waterways in developing nations. Vaccines undergo a complicated journey to get from cold-storage facilities to ‘Last Mile’ communities. The vaccines may not make it due to transportation issues, weather conditions, poor infrastructure, topography, and local conflict. Other organizations are using aerial drones to deliver vaccines, blood and other medical supplies, but Not Impossible Labs wants to create a boat drone that will utilize Africa’s rivers and tributary systems. Not Impossible Labs is looking to develop an unmanned solution that utilizes waterways to get vaccines from facilities to remote villages.
Projected Impact: Utilizing a pharmaceutical boat drone to deliver vaccines can help reduce the dangers that health workers face when delivering vaccines to ‘Last Mile’ communities. Healthcare workers often travel long distances through challenging terrains while carrying cold-storage vaccine containers to get vaccines to isolated areas. Using a boat drone to transfer vaccines in a secured, cold-storage container can reduce the need for volunteers to travel to ‘Last Mile’ communities themselves and reduces the dangers they could face during the journey. The drone boats could utilize water currents to save money and energy when transporting vaccines while using water to help keep vaccines cool during transport. Team ‘LifeBoat’ hopes that their project will spur others to create solutions for vaccine transportation.
Proposed Solution: Team ‘LifeBoat’ created an unmanned boat that can be used to deliver vaccines to isolated communities. The team talked with professors to determine what path to take for the project. They have several sketches and CAD drawings of boat hull designs and will test the boat in a drag tank to help determine a boat hull design.
Team 2: Geeky Blinders - Omar Ragheb, Devshan Renganathan, Omar Raslan, Claire Miller, Aaron Orquia, Matthew Derrico
Problem: Getting People to Vaccines: In the most vulnerable areas, the closest health centers are often located hours or days away. A trip to a health center could cause people to lose out on earnings from working. Because ‘Last Mile’ areas are so isolated, communication between these areas and vaccine distribution centers is often difficult. Information about which days people can get vaccinated are confused, or people arrive after all the vaccines have been administered. Often, these communities rely on a single phone to communicate. It is similar to a game of telephone. While the information passed along starts off being accurate, as the information spreads, it becomes more inaccurate. Not Impossible Labs would like Team “Geeky Blinders” to create a sound amplification device so people in these communities can all hear the information about vaccines from a single phone.
Projected Impact: In some ‘Last Mile’ communities, there can be mistrust or misunderstandings about vaccines. The developed sound amplification device is intended to improve communication between the outside world and the ‘Last Mile’ communities. Improving communication between health specialists and these communities could help clarify misconceptions about vaccinations. The communication would also allow people to not waste a day traveling to a distribution center on a day when vaccines are not being administered. The sound amplification system will also allow communities to share their cell phone resources. Team ‘Geeky Blinders’ is excited to be a part of a project that has the potential to improve access to critical vaccines.
Proposed Solution: Not Impossible Labs and team ‘Geeky Blinders’ have been working with an organization called SaraConnects to design a sound amplification device that would connect to any phone. SaraConnects is an interactive Internet portal that allows any telephone, smart or not, to connect to the Internet. The founder of SaraConnects, Robert Sztybel, was a technical adviser for team ‘Geeky Blinders’ during the project. Because each cell phone is different, the team had to figure out a way to connect their solar-powered sound amplification device with any type of phone the users in ‘Last Mile’ communities may have. The team decided to use magnetic induction to universally connect with any phone. The team utilized tools in the Invention Studio, talked to professors for advice, and used supplies from the electronics lab to build their prototype. They created a prototype that encases speakers in wood to amplify the sound coming from the SaraConnects Portal. The goal is to allow people in a community to hear information from a phone clearly without having to crowd around a single phone. The communities should be able to use SaraConnects to not only get information about vaccines but to also listen to on-demand entertainment.
Mary O'Reilly, Director of Projects at Not Impossible Labs, said that she’s enjoyed working with Georgia Tech’s student teams and was excited to have brilliant engineering minds and fresh sets of eyes look at the projects. She was also impressed with the incredible amount of research conducted and reasoning behind different design decisions. After the Capstone Design Expo, Not Impossible Labs will be visiting some ‘Last Mile’ communities in Africa and speaking with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who help distribute vaccines to determine where they can start pilot programs for the unmanned boats and sound amplification devices. The pilot programs will further test the design concept to determine how these solutions can be integrated into everyday life in these areas. Once Not Impossible Labs gathers data from the pilot programs, they intend to make improvements on the designs to better serve the communities. Learn more about Vaccine: Not Impossible by visiting http://www.notimpossible.com/vaccine.
All senior students in Mechanical Engineering culminate their undergraduate educational experience with the Senior Capstone Design course in order to provide firsthand experience at solving real world problems in a team environment. Students typically work in teams of four to six individuals and each team is advised by a faculty member. You can find more information on the Capstone Design Expo at http://expo.gatech.edu/. Companies interested in submitting a project for consideration can contact Dr. Amit S. Jariwala, at 404-894-3931 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.