ARHS inventors land national grant to create device to help search and rescue operations

Amherst Regional High School

Amherst Regional High School

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-22-2024 10:41 AM

AMHERST — Speed and efficiency in searching for and rescuing those lost in remote locations increases survival rates, with success going down dramatically when such operations last more than a day, experts say.

Understanding that there may be ways to improve search and rescue operations, a group of students at Amherst Regional High School is embarking on finding a technological solution to a real-world problem as one of eight recipients nationwide for an invention grant from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams program.

The high school was recently awarded a $7,500 InvenTeam grant to participate.

John Fabel, an engineering and physics teacher at the school, initiated the application process and worked with students to put together a final proposal submitted last summer.

Then, a panel of university professors, inventors, entrepreneurs, industry professionals and students, including former InvenTeam members, selected the recipients.

As part of the work, the InvenTeam in Amherst will work with search and rescue experts, including Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson and Markian Stec, a specialist with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Mountain Team 1.

The Amherst students are creating a monitoring system that will track the vital signs of those handling the search and rescue, record their locations and transmit this data back to a command center. When complete, this system is supposed to be integrated into an existing CalTopo mapping program developed for search and rescue teams.

Initially, the InvenTeam will develop its solution and build a working prototype that will be ready for a technical review in February. The final prototype will then be shown at EurekaFest, an invention celebration at MIT June 10-12.

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Leigh Estabrooks, Lemelson-MIT’s invention education officer, said in a statement that the inventions will focus on inequities in health and well-being, environmental issues, and safety.

“These high school students are not just problem solvers of tomorrow, they are problem solvers today helping to make our world more equitable, healthier and safer,” Estabrooks said.

This is the 20th year of the initiative in which 17 teams of high school students, so far, have earned U.S. patents for their projects.

The program combines intellectual property education with invention education, and makes an effort to remedy historic inequities among those who develop inventions, protect their intellectual property, and commercialize their creations.