Building a Success Story with Science
BILLERICA -- It’s 3D printing with a twist. Just build a shape in a computer drafting software, hit print, and the creation will be printed -- not in plastic -- but frosting.
The printer built by Billerica Memorial High School senior Cory Lafleur and his teammates took home first place out of seven teams competing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Beaver Works Summer Institute.
“We used a syringe so we would compress a syringe to make the frosting come out instead of using a motor,” LaFleur said.
Lafleur and Billerica Memorial High School sophomores Saketh Mynampati and Shashank Jarmale attended the MIT program this summer, which draws international participants.
Amy Skrobis, the high school’s engineering teacher, encouraged the teens to apply to the program last school year. All participants must fill out an application and attend an online course before the four-week summer program.
“They have jobs, sports, clubs, school and then that,” said Skrobis. “It’s taking on even more.”
All three are involved in student government and play on sports teams. Both Mynampati and Jarmale are on the high-school robotics team.
“I just set an hour a day aside for (the course),” Mynampati said. “You just have to allocate time.”
Mynampati, who said he is interested in pursing a career in medicine or computer science, worked with his team to design an autonomous race car, which could navigate through a course. Though the vehicle was small, only about two feet long, it was equipped with the same sensors as a full-sized version used by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, he said.
“My favorite part was probably getting it to work as a team,” he said. “When we got it to work it was a great feeling.”
Jarmale focused on creating a medical modeling system to identify atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. Using data from previous diagnosis, his team identified signifiers of the disease then attached heartbeat sensors to participants for live demonstrations.
Right now, he said this type of modeling isn’t as accurate as a doctors opinion, but the technology is going through testing for eventually more widespread use.
“There are some that are in use,” he said. “You wouldn’t take a model as serious as a second opinion. They’re on the way there.”
Jarmale is also interested in eventually working in medicine or computer science. Lafleur said he wants to pursue engineering.
Skrobis said this is the first year she suggested this program to students, but hopes to see more local participants in the future.
“I’m hoping to grow it and get more interest in it,” she said.
Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins