THINK 2014 Winners

Smart Windows for Dynamic Home Energy Optimization

Jonathan Zong and Gabriel Valderrama

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Since heat flow management accounts for the majority of home energy use, minimizing the amount of energy wasted hugely impacts energy efficiency. A significant source of heat gain and loss in the home comes from solar radiation incident on windows. Current material solutions for reducing solar heat inefficiency, such as window glazing, suffer because they do not react to changing environmental variables. We propose a dynamic sensor system integrated with an electrochromic window which changes light transmission properties in response to an applied voltage. The system will collect ambient temperature and light data in order to make informed decisions on the granular adjustment of the window and thus minimize the amount of solar heat gain opposing the air conditioning temperature management system of the home. We aim to achieve our goal of reduced home energy consumption by obtaining the materials and designing the sensor apparatus and algorithms in order to physically implement the system in a home.

Jonathan: I'm a hacker at heart, and interested in communities of innovation at the intersection of technology and societal impact. I created and monetized DeuterIDE, a mobile IDE/text editor with online compilation for Android. I also coordinated Project Rainstrom Glen to send a weather balloon 100,000 feet into the upper atmosphere to take photographs of the Earth's curvature and collect sensor data. Previously, I led the backend engineering team at Azul, a startup founded at University of Texas. An Eagle Scout, I built an organic community garden which provides fresh produce to the underserved. I love hackathons, making music with my cello, and storytelling of all kinds. I will be attending SXSW Interactive as a 2014 Interact Austin Fellow. I'll also be joining the Coursera team as a summer intern through the KPCB Engineering Fellowship. I hope to bring my experiences with THINK into my future entrepreneurial and technical endeavors.

Gabriel: Born in Midland, Texas, I moved to a suburb of Houston called Katy almost a year later and have remained a native ever since. Although I didn't quite know it back then, my search for beautiful things has taken me from the most rudimentary 5th grade baking soda experiments to the complex realities of my third-world pseudo-native Venezuela. Because I live to find beauty and sense in the world around me, my influences have always been a bit unconventional. I picked up the violin at age 11 and found Sibelius, read my first word at age who-knows-when and discovered my love for Faulkner, planted seeds and ended up embracing Chef Dan Barber's conservation efforts. Yes, a chef. I can look back on my plethora of influences and experiences and treasure a beautiful message in all of them.

Using an Artificial Fingerprint to Improve Tactile Sensitivity in

Hand Prostheses and Robotic Systems

Madeline Dubelier

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The current technology for robotic and prosthetic hands in terms of tactile sensitivity is developing but not widely accessible. The human fingerprint not only makes each human individual but also allows us to have the ability to feel and sense all types of surfaces and discriminate different objects. The hundreds of ridges in our fingertips increase the surface area, which hold thousands of nerve endings. I plan to implement the unique design of a human fingerprint into my robotic and prosthetic hand in order to increase tactile capability. The artificial fingerprint will consist of a pad like attachment connected to the robotic finger that will have small flaps or raised portions embedded with force sensitive resistors. When the fingertip is run across a surface, depending on the amounts of pressure that the different sensors detect, discrimination between rough and smooth surfaces will be possible. This design could be implemented in robotic systems to increase the sensory capabilities in autonomous robots or in prosthetic hands to help amputees regain their lost sense of touch.

Madeline: I am currently a sophomore at Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. I am interested in engineering, especially prosthetics and robotics. I have always had a passion for building things and developing new ideas. For the past four years, I have competed in various types of robotics where I've learned a lot about working with a team, engineering, and programming. I have travelled around the country competing and have met all types of interesting people. Outside of science I play tennis, squash, and lacrosse on my school teams. I am also part of my school's environmental club where we develop various initiatives to improve our school's impact on the environment. I am eager to begin my project and hopefully someday have an impact on this field.

Gyroscopically Stabilized Building

William Chen and Daniel Li

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Earthquakes are frequent phenomena that wreak tremendous havoc on infrastructure globally, especially in regions that lie Earth's seismic faults line including California, Japan, and other Pacific countries. Because these natural occurrences are impossible to scientifically predict, a self-­stabilizing building would reduce property damage and ultimately save human lives. The goal of our project is to engineer a 3-­story building (0.3m x 0.3m x 1.0m) that incorporates a novel design based on Arduino gyroscopic sensors and Servomotors to counteract an earthquake's lateral movements. Doing so will also play off of the building's natural tendency to stay at rest, leaving the topmost level nearly unmoved. The plan will be implemented into infrastructures in regions that lie on the edge of the Pacific Plate, Eurasian Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate. Residential, corporate, and government buildings may implement the infrastructure design to prevent property damage, reduce human casualties, and benefit urban society.

William: Since elementary school, I have always been passionate about creating and making things with my hands. Lego and K'Nex embodies my favorite childhood memories - I often spent my free time creating imaginary space ships, enchanted fortresses, and menacing-looking robots. Later, my building blocks were upgraded to Lego Mindstorms, VEX Robotics, and Arduino electronics, which have expanded the functionalities of my creations. My avid interest led me to join Science Olympiad construction events including tower, scrambler, and boomilever. I have also competed in science fair and developed a driving simulation from the MIT Scratch "drag and drop" programming language. Besides my academic pursuits, I play the violin and cello and have performed at Carnegie Hall with American High School Honors Performance Series. In addition to music, I play tennis competitively and have been part of student government. I am currently a junior at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, California.

Daniel: I am currently a junior at La Canada High School. Although science is an interest of mine, I really try to give everything a shot, whether it's from English to physics to history. After all, I'm just quite simply a curious person. In school I participate in several extracurriculars - debate, music, math and science Olympiad, sports, and community service projects. Out of all these, science has played a major role, as it's the most applicable to the real world and its situations. Thus, I've been looking into earthquakes quite a bit as I do live in California and am frequently exposed to such. Naturally, working as a mechanic for several years, my brain is inclined to mechanical workings and the idea of a moving parts in a building came to mind. With this project and MIT THINK, I hope to further my understanding of applying science to worldly uses.

Honorable Mentions

  • Fostering and Leading Endeavors to Excellence
    Jacob Swiezy and Josh Chang (Carmel, Indiana)
  • The Levistance
    Woo Kyung Lee and Seung Ki Min (Flushing, New York)
  • The ApaPhotalyst Grid: Oxidation through Photocatalysts and Apatite Material
    Mandy Yang and Howard Chu (Whitestone, New York)
  • The Saber
    Farita Tasnim and Dorothy van Doorn (Columbus, Georgia)


See Past Winners