Students' innovation the right prescription for success

Pill dispenser earns Walker Career Center a trip to Hannover Messe and solves a common problem by using automation

04/08/2014


A creative and comprehensive approach to dispensing medicine took a team of high school students from Indianapolis to Hannover, Germany, this week. Students from Walker Career Center won Phoenix Contact's annual Nanoline Contest, which celebrates innovation by high school students.

The students built RoboDose, an automatic pill dispenser that can be programmed not just to deliver the right medication at the right time for a home-bound patient, but will alert caregivers and family members if the patient doesn't take the medication out of the dispenser.

Team members Brian Wyatt, Jon Owens, Emma Griffith, Jaidy Hernandez and Portia Jefferson, and advisor Jim Hanson traveled to Hannover to display their invention and participate in the TecToYou Pavilion at Hannover Messe, where they could interact with other high school students from around Germany.

"It's amazing the things all these people are doing," said Hernandez. "I love the TecToYou area. I wasn't expecting this many people, for it to be this big."

The students observed a common issue for their grandparents and others who need a secure way to remind them to take their medications on time. "At one point, even many of us will reach an age or time when we can no longer remember much in our lives, especially fine details," the students wrote in their online page discussing their project. "We designed this product for use by patients at hospitals, nursing homes, senior living facilities or even those elderly living independently at home."

Using Phoenix Contact's Nanoline controller and other sensors and equipment, the students designed a case that allows a patient or caregiver to fill containers with medication and program the system to dispense the right dose at specific times during the day. An RFID on the patient's wrist ensures that the right person gets access to the medication while also providing independence for the patient.

Developing RoboDose involved not just technology, but also problem-solving. For example, the students couldn't use real medication in testing the equipment, but they found candy or other sugar-based substitutes would degrade over time and through off the calculations. The students worked with a manufacturer to get them placebos that looked and acted like real medication, but without the medicine.

The project has received tremendous support within the school, and from partners like Walgreen's and Purdue University. Owens recalls going to Purdue for a tour and remembers seeing a room filled with projects much like the one they worked on. "It really got me excited about the future," Owens said.

Walker Career Center instructor Jim Hanson (right) and students Jaidy Hernandez and Jon Owners show off the RoboDose medication dispenser at the 2014 Hannover Messe in Germany. Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaThe future of manufacturing is all about students like these, and even with 300 students in the engineering track at Walker, Hanson knows more students are needed to meet future challenges. "Recruitment is the hardest part," said Hanson. "We've done a much better job in past years. It's not just about science and math; they're pieces in the puzzle. The students need the hands-on experience as well."

Hanson and teacher Chris Hurd from Cazenovia High School in Cazenovia, N.Y. have a Website, http://www.chrisandjimcim.com/ that promotes Computer Integrated Manufacturing. Hanson said the first step to grow interest among young people like his winning team from Walker Career Center is to change the way people view manufacturing, including parents and other educators.

"It's not the perception. It doesn't have to be. When the students get into robotics and automation, and use the talent they already have, they get to stand back and watch this thing they made come to life. They design something with 3D software, and now can hold it in their hands. They never realized that it was part of manufacturing."

- Learn more about RoboDose.

Plant Engineering will be providing daily coverage of the Hannover Messe conference at plantengineering.com.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me