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150 Thayer Gifts to the World: Part 2

150 inventions, companies, books, and innovations by faculty, students, and alumni over the last 150 years

Compiled by Lee Michaelides and Kimberly Swick Slover

Back to Nos. 1–98

NOS. 99–114: Alumni Companies

NO. 99: Alta Motors

Alta Motors
Photograph courtesy of Alta Motors.

Cofounders and MEM graduates Marc Fenigstein ’01 Th’04 and David Drennan Th’09 want their Redshift electric motorcycle to be the Honda of the 21st century. Says Fenigstein,“We found a way to make everyone want electric: by making them go faster.” Previously called BRD Motorcycles, Alta Motors is producing electric motorcycles that have the power to outperform their gas-powered rivals.

NO. 100: Biolite

BioLite Stove
Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Cedar.

The BioLite Stove, invented by Jonathan Cedar ’03 and Jonathan den Hartog ’03 Th’05, is a biomass-powered cook stove that uses its own waste heat to improve combustion efficiency. BioLite claims that its stoves produce 90 percent fewer particulate and carbon monoxide emissions and use 50 percent less wood than cooking over an open fire. The stove addresses a huge problem: Three billion people around the world still cook on open wood or dung-fueled fires or inefficient stoves, leading to more than two million premature deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization. Cedar, who majored in engineering modified with environmental science, sees another potential benefit of the technology: cutting soot’s black carbon emissions, a major contributor to global warming. “But the biggest story here is that two million people die,” he says. “That’s ultimately, in my view, the reason to be doing this.

NO. 101 Hypertherm

Image courtesy of Hypertherm.

In 1968 Richard Couch ’64 Th’65 and Professor Robert Dean Jr. started Hypertherm Inc. in a two-car garage to produce a water-injection plasma torch that was nine times hotter than the sun. Today Hypertherm is a world leader in producing plasma, laser, and waterjet systems, software, motion controls and consumables. Couch, a Thayer Overseer, built Lebanon, N.H.-based Hypertherm into an employee-owned company with an award-winning culture of corporate social responsibility.

NO. 102: Sproxil

Photograph courtesy of Sproxil.

“The growing trade in fake pharmaceuticals is of great concern in the developing world because of the large impact it has on human life,” says Ashifi Gogo Th’10, the first graduate of Thayer’s PhD Innovation Program. More than 700,000 deaths a year result from fake and substandard tuberculosis and malaria drugs alone. Gogo founded Sproxil to combat counterfeiting through a cell phone-based product verification service that is now used in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and other areas where fake drugs are a problem.

NO. 103: Konga.com
E-commerce pioneer Simdul Shagaya Th’99 founded Konga.com in 2012 as the Amazon of Africa, selling the region’s increasingly affluent consumer class everything from groceries to electronics. The MEM graduate previously founded DealDey, a Groupon-style group-buying site that employed a fleet of motorcycles to meet online shoppers across Lagos, Nigeria, waiting to pay for their purchases with cash. Shagaya, who says that this type of infrastructure is essential to e-commerce in developing countries, was named 2013 Leadership CEO of the Year by the Nigeria Leadership Newspapers Group for “his ardent efforts to making online shopping a mainstream activity” in Nigeria and building the country’s largest online shopping mall.

NO. 104: Reverse Osmosis Companies

Reverse Osmosis
Photograph courtesy of Thayer School Archives.

When Dean Spatz ’66 Th’67 and Chris Miller ’66 Th’67 took ES 21: Introduction to Engineering, commercial applications for reverse osmosis systems were in their infancy. Given a jar of brackish water and told to find a way to make it potable, the pair came up with a prototype for a reverse-osmosis purification system. They ramped up their undergraduate project into graduate-level research that eventually led each to found companies: Spatz’s Osmonics (now part of GE) and Miller’s Aqua Design.

NO. 105: Plastic Solar Thermal Panels
“The key to any entrepreneurial endeavor is finding a need and filling it,” observes Freeman Ford ’63. He found his opportunity literally in his backyard—his swimming pool. Pool heaters in 1969 were expensive to install and operate. So Ford thought like an engineer. “Swimming pools use a huge amount of energy, they are a big storage tank, and they have a circulation pump, so they have the three things necessary for a solar thermal system,” he thought. “The only thing they don’t have is a collector.” Ford decided to build solar collectors out of plastic. The company he started has sold more than 1.75 million solar heating systems. In 2006 Ford was inducted into an international honor society created by Congress: the Solar Hall of Fame.

NO. 106: MacLean-Fogg
When Barry MacLean ’60 Th’61 took over the business his grandfather founded in 1925 to produce locking fasteners for railroads, he built the company into a global enterprise consisting of two primary businesses, MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions and MacLean Power Systems, with 40 global manufacturing facilities, annual sales in excess of $1 billion, and a worldwide workforce of more than 4,500 people. MacLean, a longtime Thayer Overseer, is the company’s CEO and chairman. His son Duncan ’94 Th’95 ’96 is president.

NO. 107: LuminAID

US Patent No. 3,605,843.

For millions without power in the wake of hourricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Anna Stork ’08 is helping provide some respite. Her company, LuminAID, made the world’s first handheld inflatable, rechargeable LED lamp and has stepped up its distribution to these hard-hit areas—along with LuminAID’s newest product, a waterproof phone charger-lantern combo called the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger. Stork and her LuminAID cofounder won over their first major investor, Mark Cuban, in 2015 on ABC’s Shark Tank.

NO. 108: Plastic Technologies Inc.

Plastic Technologies
Tom Brady displays plastic packaging products made at his company Plastic Technologies Inc. in Bowling Green, Ohio. Photograph courtesy of Tom Brady.

Tom Brady ’66 Th’68 founded Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI) in 1985. The premise for creating PTI was that Coca-Cola bottlers wanted to develop innovative PET plastic soft drink packaging products. PTI is recognized today as the premier PET technical development and support resource in that industry, with nearly 120 employees worldwide, and offices and labs in Ohio and Geneva. Recent technological developments include biopolymers, nanotechnology for material additives, flexible packaging and pouches, sustainable packaging initiatives, and instrument development with new sensors.

NO. 109: Jetboil
Image courtesy of Jetboil.

Dwight Aspinwall ’84 was frustrated with clunky camp stoves so he engineered his own. Jetboil, the company he cofounded to build and sell the stove, is legendary among backpackers. Thayer students helped optimize Jetboil’s burner assembly and flame testing.

NO. 110: Tilting Motor Works

Tilting Motor Works
Photograph courtesy of Tilting Motor Works.

Bob Mighell ’85 Th’86, founder of Tilting Motor Works, developed a breakthrough leaning three-wheel conversion system that offers the stability and safety benefits of three wheels with the handling of a motorcycle. The patented device was developed with the help of a team of Thayer students. The invention is cool and fast. At Bonneville Salt Flats, Mighell broke the land-speed record for three-wheeled motorcycles by more than 10 mph in 2012, hitting 132.342 mph over one mile.

NO. 111: Liquid Light
Liquid Light, a company cofounded by Kyle Teamey ’98, uses energy from light or any electric power source to convert waste carbon dioxide into industrial chemicals and transportation fuels, in a process similar to artificial photosynthesis or reverse combustion. While the company won’t be doing large-scale production for several years, it has made a handful of key breakthroughs in catalysis that can eventually lead to improving energy security and reducing oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions.

NO. 112: Owler.com
Owler.com, cofounded by Tim Harsch ’11, bills itself as “the world’s largest community-based competitive insights platform.” “We track more than 4 million companies around the world to allow people to stay up-to-date on their competitors, clients, partners, and sales prospects and always know when there is a big news event, acquisition, leadership team change, or round of funding at any company they follow,” says Harsch. “We also show members how they compare against their closest competition.”

NO. 113: Upstart
Dave Girouard ’88 Th’89 cofounded the crowdfunding platform Upstart in 2012 to connect enterprising students with people who want to invest in them. A former VP of apps and president of enterprise at Google, Girouard told Forbes: “We aim to make Upstart a network that people are engaged with, not just a place where they receive funding.” He says he wants to help young people “forgo the traditional job search and pursue what they want to do.” He speaks from experience. “My career was really shaped in the early years by my need to pay back student loans,” he says. “It wasn’t until six years after I left Thayer that I made a career decision based on what I wanted to do, rather than what I felt I needed to do. Younger people have all the energy needed, and are actually in a better position to take on a risky venture. Why not help more grads make the right decision by giving them a bit of economic freedom, coupled with advice and mentorship from those who have done it before.” Upstart initially launched at five colleges, including Dartmouth. Today Upstart touts itself as “the first lending platform to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to price, credit, and automate the borrowing process.”

NO. 114: Polaris Partners
Venture capitalist and Thayer Overseer Chair Terry McGuire Th’82 has the connections and vision that have helped build more than 25 successful new companies. McGuire, who cofounded Polaris Partners in 1996, has raised more than $3.5 billion to invest in promising companies. He has backed startups including Akamai Technologies (one of the most successful public stock offerings of the dot-com era, and today worth nearly $10 billion) and the Dartmouth spin-out GlycoFi, acquired by pharmaceutical giant Merck for $400 million.

NOS. 115–141: Alumni Innovations

NO. 115: Artistic Sugar Shaker

Photograph courtesy of Henry Keck.

Henry C. Keck ’43 Th’44 Tu’44 started an industrial design firm, Keck-Craig in 1951. The 1,500 items he and the firm produced include a sugar shaker that is considered a work of art. Design historian Bill Stern described Keck’s 1955 sugar shaker to the L.A. Times as “the essence of modernism, a perfect meld of function and form. There’s not a whit of unnecessary decoration. It’s made inexpensively but responsibly, so it won’t prematurely break or wear out. Viewed at a distance, it is an extremely elegant object.”

NO. 116: Panama Canal Emergency Locks

Panama Canal Emergency Dam
Photograph courtesy Thayer School Archives.

As assistant chief engineer of the American Bridge Co., Otis Hovey, Dartmouth 1885, Thayer 1887, worked on some of the biggest projects of his era, including designing the superstructure of the Bellefontaine Bridge across the Mississippi and designing and building six emergency dams for the Panama Canal. Hovey was also the authority on moveable bridges. He wrote the subject bible, Moveable Bridges, published in 1926, and held patents on three moveable bridge designs that he dubbed Types O, E, and H—which just happen to be his initials.

NO. 117: West Point’s Rigor

West Point
Photograph courtesy of United States Military Academy.

When Sylvanus Thayer, Dartmouth 1807, was superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1817 to 1833, he introduced discipline, seriousness of purpose, and an exacting engineering curriculum. With these measures, he forever changed the previously lax academy, from which he graduated in 1808, and became known as the “Father of West Point.”

NO. 118: Boston Harbor Fortifications

Fort Warren

In 1833 work began on new fortifications for Boston Harbor. The supervising builder of Forts Independence, Warren, and Winthrop was Sylvanus Thayer, Dartmouth 1807. Earlier in his career, as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the War of 1812, Thayer planned and directed the defense of Norfolk, Virginia. Though the British captured many of other coastal fortifications, they were unable to take this one. For this achievement, Thayer was made brevet major (a higher rank without higher pay).

NO. 119: PocketCPR

Photograph courtesy Mark Totman.

Mark Totman ’71 Th’72 created a free app that teaches users how to perform CPR via an embedded training course and gives feedback when performing CPR (push harder, push faster, etc.). The app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

NO. 120: History of Wooden Bridges
In 1932 Jonathan Snow, Thayer Class of 1875, and his mentor, Professor Robert Fletcher, dean of Thayer from 1871 to 1918, published what the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources describes as “one of the great documents of bridge building history.” A History of the Development of Wooden Bridges was so highly valued as a pioneering study that it was first reprinted by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1976 and several times since. Four decades earlier, Snow, who had worked his way up to chief engineer of the Boston and Maine Railroad, had written a paper praising the low cost, strength, and resilience of wooden bridges. By the time A History of the Development of Wooden Bridges came out, both authors were in their mid-80s and saw that the era of the wooden bridge was over. Still, the pair could not resist making one final pitch for the wooden bridge—“where suitable lumber for lattice bridges is abundant and where fabricated steel is costly, as was the case in New England during the Nineteenth Century, and is now the case in Southern Alaska, Northern Russia, and Siberia, and perhaps in some parts of South America, lattice truss bridges are economical and can be made perfectly good up to spans of 200 feet. If properly covered and maintained, such bridges will give from 50 to 100 years service.”

NO. 121: Bio Computers
Drew Endy Th’98, a professor at Stanford’s School of Engineering and a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, led an engineering team that succeeded in making a simple computer inside a living cell. It is the latest step in the field of synthetic biology where—one gene at a time—engineers strive to design organisms unlike anything made by Mother Nature. The tiny computers could deliver true-false answers to virtually any biological question that might be posed within a cell. For instance: Is toxic mercury present in plants or animals used for food? Scientists could introduce a detective “sentinel” organism to find out. 
—Lisa M. Krieger (Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News; adapted with permission) 

NO. 122: Cashew-Shelling Machine

US Patent No. 3,605,843.

As a BE student, Richard Couch ’64 ’65 saw an opportunity to engineer a solution to a big problem facing a nascent African cashew industry—how to shell the cashews. He wanted to design a machine that could shell the cashews while keeping the nut apart from its toxic oil. Under Professor Robert Dean Jr.’s tutelage, he designed a device that used a controlled explosion to shell the nuts. The two were awarded a patent in 1971. They tried to put it into production, approaching USAID for funding, but Cold War politics intervened: Russians were the primary buyers of African cashews, and the U.S. government didn’t want to fund anything that could be seen as helping the Soviet Union. The idea was shelved. 

NO. 123: Tehachapi Loop

Tehachapi Loop
Photography courtesy of

Dartmouth produced engineers of national importance even before the founding of the Thayer School. William Hood, Dartmouth 1867, for example, was the engineering genius behind California’s Tehachapi Loop, one of the seven wonders of the railroad world and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Professor Robert Fletcher, dean of Thayer from 1871 to 1918, described the Tehachapi Pass between San Francisco and Los Angeles as “a bewildering labyrinth of lofty peaks and ridges where the roadbed twists and squirms by every sort of horseshoe curve, S curve, and spiral.” Hood’s loop is the crowning glory of the 28 miles of rail line that snakes through the mountain pass. The elegant .73-mile spiral alone ascends at a 2-percent grade for an elevation gain of 77 feet. A train longer than 4,000 feet—some 85 cars—passes over itself as it travels along the extraordinary layout. William Hood’s Tehachapi Loop in the mountains between San Francisco and Los Angeles was completed in 1876 and still carries up to 40 trains a day.

NO. 124: Building Bridges

I-130 Mississippi River Bridge at Luling, La.
Roebling honoree Conway’s I-130 Mississippi River Bridge at Luling, La., was the nation’s longest cable-stayed bridge. Photograph courtesy of William Conway.

William B. Conway ’52 Th’54 built a lot of bridges, including the first Newburgh-Beacon Bridge across the Hudson River, the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River in Cincinnati, and the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge over the Potomac. He was the principal-in-charge on the seismic retrofit of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in San Francisco and for eight award-winning Mississippi River crossing projects, including the Greater New Orleans #2 Bridge, the second longest cantilever span in the United States. CEO of the bridge engineering firm Modjeski and Masters, Inc., Conway received the John A. Roebling Medal for lifetime achievement in 2008. Reflecting on his life in bridge-building, Conway says, “I use these words when asked about my career: ‘It fulfills me.’ I think my grandchildren can look at this thing and say, ‘I don’t know quite what, but I think my grandfather had something to do with that.’ That bridge will be there not just one or two but probably three generations from now because these big bridges will last 150 years. It is a matter of some pride.”

NO. 125: Pushing Business Sustainability
Chris Davis ’76 gave up a high-powered legal career to spread a message the world cannot afford to ignore: “Climate change is a risk to the entire global economy.” As director of the investor relations program at Ceres, a nonprofit that advises corporations and institutions on sustainable business practices, Davis works at the intersection of big money and environmentalism. He rubs elbows with Fortune 500 executives, money managers who control billions of dollars, and eco-celebrities such as Bill McKibben, who founded 350.org to help solve the climate crisis. The economic case Davis makes for sustainable business and investment strategies is straight and to the point: Socially conscious investing isn’t code for poor monetary returns. “Big companies are starting to get that sustainability issues should be integrated into corporate strategy and management. These things are important and impact the bottom line,” he says.

NO. 126: Forward-Facing Rowboat

Forward Facing Rowboat
Photograph courtesy of Warren Loomis.

Warren Loomis ’62 Th’65 believed rowers should see where they were going so he designed a rowboat that connected the mechanical system of a rowing machine to a rear-mounted propeller. He also formed a company, Faceforward!, to build and sell the innovative watercraft.

NO. 127: Trailertail

Photograph courtesy of ATDynamics.

Jeff Grossmann ’06 Th’07 and Chuck Horrell ’00 Th’01 were part of the team that invented and commercialized the TrailerTail, a collapsible, rear-drag-reduction technology that reduces the fuel consumption of 18-wheel tractor-trailers by 5 percent due to improved aerodynamics. More than 50,000 TrailerTails are now being used across North American highways—and they have already saved more than 60 million gallons of diesel fuel. The parent company, ATDynamics, was founded by Andrew Smith Tu’07 while he was at Tuck. Austin Duncanson Th’13 is now a key leader on the full-time engineering team.

NO. 128: Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive
Launched in 2002 by Thayer Professor Alex Hartov Th’88 ’91 and Jewish studies Professor Lewis Glinert, the Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive is one of the world’s leading online archives of Jewish recordings. The archive collects, restores, and digitizes recordings of the pre-digital age, including rare and often unique recordings, including folk songs, synagogue music, radio programs, humor, children’s stories, and anything that reflects the Jewish experience in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, Arabic, French, and other languages. More than 50,000 tracks are online.

NO. 129: Aquaduct

Photograph courtesy of Brian Mason.

In 2008 Brian Mason ’03 Th’04 ’05 led a team that engineered a tricycle to bring clean water to families living in the developing world. Their invention, the Aquaduct, took first prize in Google’s “Innovate or Die Pedal-Powered Machine Contest.” The Aquaduct is a pretty simple idea: The trike is ridden to a water source and filled with a day’s supply of water. Pedal power filters the water on the ride home. The team didn’t expect the invention to go into production. “It was designed to demonstrate an innovative concept and draw attention to the need for clean water in the developing world,” they wrote in their blog. “In its current state, the design would be too expensive for many parts of the world.”

NO. 130: The Civilized Engineer
Thayer School’s emphasis on the need for liberally educated engineers has no better spokesperson than Samuel Florman ’46 Th’46. His book The Civilized Engineer, published in 1976, has become a classic. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering “for literary contributions furthering engineering professionalism, ethics and liberal engineering education” in 1995. In this excerpt from an article he wrote for The Scientist, Florman makes the case for Thayer School’s approach to an engineering education: “I am convinced that the quality of our technology, and consequently the quality of our lives, would be improved by the liberal enrichment of engineering education, by the broadening of horizons, the deepening of cultural awareness—in short, by the civilizing—of engineers…I suggest that liberal education for engineers would bring members of the profession into leadership roles from which they are presently excluded, and that this, in turn, would bring significant economic and political benefits. Engineers do not have answers to all the great questions, but their absence from decision-making groups clearly works to our nation’s disadvantage.”

NO. 131: Gyrobike

Photograph by Chad Hunt.

The Gyrobike, a stabilizing beginner’s bicycle, rode all the way to Popular Mechanics magazine’s 2006 Breakthrough Awards. “It’s an elegant, simple solution to the eternal problem of learning to ride a bike,” wrote Jim Meigs ’80, the Popular Mechanics editor who oversaw the awards project. Hannah Murnen ’06 Th’07, Augusta Niles ’07, Nathan Sigworth ’07, and Deborah Sperling ’06 Th’07 created the bike in ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering in 2004. They sold the rights to their invention in 2013 to a British firm that sells the bike under the name Jyrobike.

NO. 132: Spotter-Free Weight-Lifting Bench
For ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering, Eric Chaves ’05, Dan Jackson ’05, Lance Martin ’05 Th’06, and Colin Murray ’04 Th’05 ’06 invented a safe solution to a weighty problem. They created a weight bench with an adjustable piston allowing weightlifters to safely lower themselves below a catch bar when they need an assist.

NO. 133: Mobile Virtual Player

Mobile Virtual Player
Photograph by Pittsburgh Steelers/Karl Roser.

It takes a smart team to build a really good dummy. In the case of the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) the project began with two Dartmouth ’79s, Thayer research engineer John Currier Th’81 and football coach Buddy Teevens. The pair had brainstormed about how to simulate tackling after Teevens ended full-contact practices in order to reduce head injuries. “We decided the most effective way would be to take it to the Thayer School and position it as a capstone project,” says Currier, who reached out to Elliot Kastner ’13 Th’14 ’15, an engineering student and Dartmouth football player. Kastner assembled a BE team that included Noah Glennon Th’14 ’15, Andrew Smist ’13 Th’14, and Quinn Connell ’13 Th’14 to design and build the MVP. The MVP debuted at the football team’s training camp in 2015. After field testing on the Dartmouth gridiron and tweaking it back at Thayer, the team took the MVP to the next level: They started a company. Now half the NFL teams have MVPs, and the dummy has appeared with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show and in an NFL commercial aired during the 2016 Super Bowl. New BE student teams are working to modify the MVP for use in other sports and applications.

NO. 134: Expandable Eye-Socket Implant
In a BE project sponsored by Aurolab, Amanda Christian Th’12, Elizabeth Chang Th’12, and Chris Ng Th’12 created a hydrogel sphere as an expandable eye-socket implant to treat infants born with no or atrophied eyeballs. The sphere, made of cross-linked polymers, can grow with the infant’s skull by absorbing fluid from the surrounding tissue, reducing the number of implant surgeries children have to undergo.

NO. 135: Microflora Isolation for Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Fecal Microbiota
Photograph by Karen Endicott.

For a BE project sponsored by Pureflora Inc., Jennifer Freise ’12 Th’13, Taylor Gray ’13 Th’13, Pauline Schmit ’13 Th’13, Alison Stace-Naughton ’11 Th’13, and Sharang Biswas ’12 Th’13 developed a clean solution to a messy problem: preparing healthy fecal microbiota for transplantation into patients suffering from Clostridium difficile (C. diff), a virulent intestinal pathogen. The device, which borrowed from prior BE work by Peter Ankeny ’12 Th’12, Alex Engler ’12 Th’13, and Will Hart ’12 Th’12, is a healthy step forward for fecal microbiota transplantation as a treatment for C. diff.

NO. 136: Custom Musical Keyboard

Digital Keyboard
Photograph by Nancy Wasserman.

When taking ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering, Renee Foisy ’88, David Lindahl ’86, Christoph Mack ’88, Corey Brinkema ’86, Susan Smith ’86, and Patrick Walsh ’88 met Maureen Gaynor, a young musician with cerebral palsy who wanted to be able to play chords. The students “decided they would make her a piano,” says Professor John Collier ’72 Th’73 ’75 ’77. “They talked to Casio and got them to donate an electronic organ. They tested her ability to move and realized one hand had much more control than the other and that she could only put her hands out to the sides. They did lots of testing with Maureen and got the angle of the keyboard just right and the size of the keys right. The students went to the wood shop at the Hopkins Center and made this whole electric piano case out of cherry so it looked like furniture. Here at Thayer they tested the tactile feel of all the different plastics, picked the most appealing, and then machined each key individually and hooked each up electronically to the organ. Toward the end of the term one member of the group took the piano down to Crotched Mountain, set it up, and set up a video camera. Maureen rolled over to the keyboard and began to play ‘Silent Night.’ ”

NO. 137: Humanitarian Engineering

Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering
Photograph courtesy of Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering.

Thayer students have carried out several humanitarian projects since the 2000s, including creating clean-water and micro-hydropower systems and a clean-burning cook stove program in Africa. Students working with VillageTech Solutions, a California-based non-profit run by Thayer Overseer Edward “Skip” Stritter ’68, have built wire bridges and developed inexpensive systems to filter arsenic out of drinking water.

NO. 138: Collapsible Nebulizer

Collapsible Nebulizer
Image courtesy of Take-a-Breather Group.

When taking ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering, Zakieh Bigio ’10, Elizabeth Dain-Owens ’10, Catherine Emil ’10, Sarah Feldmann ’11, and Sarah Rocio ’10 developed a handy device for asthmatics: a collapsible portable nebulizer with a novel two-way valve that allows the patient to hold the device in his or her mouth while breathing normally.

NO. 139: Longboard Brake

Hill Breaker
Photograph courtesy of Hill Breaker Team.

The Hill Breaker, an ingenious ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering project, makes longboarding down steep hills a lot safer by using centrifugal force to automatically regulate speed. On each front wheel a pair of pivoting brake shoes rotates within a brake drum fixed to the axle. At low speeds the brake shoes are held retracted by springs. As speed increases and the centrifugal force of the brake shoes exceeds the spring force, the brake shoes pivot outwards against the brake drum, generating smooth resistance that increases with speed. The Hill Breaker was the brainchild of Katherine Conway ’13, Ethan Dreissigacker ’13, Scott Lacy ’13, and Christopher Magoon ’13, with assistance from Anastasia Miliano ’10.

NO. 140: Nation’s First Overhead Ski Tow

The Oak Hill J Bar
Photograph courtesy of Dartmouth College Archives.

F. Bryon Tomlinson ’35 Th’36 designed the Dartmouth Ski Tramway when he was a Thayer student under the direction of Professor William Kimball ’28. The J-bar, installed at Oak Hill in 1935, is considered the nation’s first overhead ski lift. With an 80-horsepower engine, the lift moved 600 skiers per hour 1,200 linear feet up Oak Hill for an elevation gain of 350 feet.

NO. 141: Stethoscope for Hearing-Impaired Doctor
Dartmouth medical student Rob Nutt ’88 had to wear hearing aids since age 3 because of bilateral sensory hearing loss. In 2003 a team of Thayer students made it possible for him to use a stethoscope. They created a high-fidelity stethoscope by using an FM assisted-hearing system to mike up a stethoscope and amplify it into Nutt’s hearing aids.

NOS. 142–150: Curricular Advances

NO. 142: V-12 Program

Navy V-12 Program,
Photograph courtesy of Thayer School Archives.

After Pearl Harbor, America’s standard four-year college experience became a casualty of war. With the draft age lowered to 18, many young men could not enroll in college before entering the military. Adjusting to the consequent shortage of college-educated commissioned officers, the Navy developed a way to combine college education with military service: the V-12 Navy College Training Program. Dartmouth became host to the largest V-12 unit in 1943, when some 2,000 enlisted men and an officer staff came “on board” at the College—including 300 students from Dartmouth and 74 from Thayer. Dartmouth operated like a naval base for the rest of the war.

NO. 143: PhD Innovation Program
In 2008 Thayer School started the nation’s first PhD Innovation Program to address the need for leaders with both technical and entrepreneurial expertise. “Students learn about intellectual property, funding, capitalization, cash-flow issues, how to operate a business, management practices, ethics, how to hire a good team, how to balance an organization, and how to be a leader,” says the program’s faculty coordinator, Professor Eric Fossum, an inventor, entrepreneur, and CEO with decades of experience commercializing technologies.

NO. 144: Women in Science Project (WISP)
In 1990 Carol Muller ’77, an associate dean at Thayer, and chemistry Professor Karen Wetterhahn launched WISP to increase the number of women in science. Twenty-six years later, Thayer awarded 54 percent of its undergraduate engineering degrees to women, the first national research university to award more bachelor’s in engineering to women than men. WISP has hit other milestones: The number of Dartmouth women majoring in the sciences jumped from 45 in 1990 to 246 (52.3 percent of all science majors) in 2016; more than 4,500 students have been placed with mentors; and more than 1,800 have become research interns.

NO. 145: ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering

ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering
Photograph by Douglas Fraser.

Life-changing. That’s how countless students have described Thayer’s signature introductory course since it became a real-world problem-solving experience in 1961. Over the years various projects became the foundation for patents and companies, including Osmonics, Aqua Design, GyroBike, and Tray Bien. “My entire work life is an extension of the concepts I learned in Engines 21,” says Thayer Overseer Andrew Silvernail ’94, CEO of IDEX. Various students have replicated ENGS 21 abroad; most recently, George Boateng ’16 launched Project iSWEST, an ENGS 21 experience for high schools students in Ghana.

NO. 146: Engineering and Public Policy
Thayer’s engineering and public policy modified major, offered in conjunction with Dartmouth’s Rockefeller Center, is a program for the aspiring public servant who realizes it will be useful to understand technology—and for the engineer who realizes that public policy affects which technologies are funded and chosen for development and adoption. “Society needs more than technical skill from engineering graduates today. We need graduates with the ability to apply those skills to solve society’s most pressing problems in critical areas, such as energy, communications, the environment, and medicine,” says Thayer Dean Joseph Helble. “Our collective future depends on it.”

NO. 147: MEM Program
When Charles Hutchinson ’68A became dean of Thayer School in 1984, the Board of Overseers asked him to launch a program similar to the Tuck-Thayer program, offered from 1942 to 1962, in which students attended Dartmouth for three years and then Thayer and Tuck for two more years. The Master of Engineering Management program that grew from that beginning set the tone for similar programs at other schools.

NO. 148: Hands-On Machine Shop

Photograph by John Sherman.

Back before maker spaces became a thing, Thayer’s machine shop operated as a hands-on creative hub for students, both engineers and non-engineers. Teaching the “doing part of engineering,” as machine shop manager Kevin Baron puts it, the machine shop has been crucial to Thayer’s project-based curriculum for decades.

NO. 149: Project Northstar
From the vantage point of 2017 the idea of a “general-purpose computer environment uniquely suited to the research and educational needs of engineering” seems quaint. But back in 1986, when Professor Daniel Lynch launched Project Northstar, the concept was a big step forward in academic computing. His idea was to create a high-speed network built around complementary hardware and software. By the project’s second year it had more than 300 users and 11 classes took advantage of its initial applications, including a 3-D crystal lattice modeler, a graphical calculator, and a data grapher.

NO. 150: Formula Hybrid

Formula Hybrid
Photograph by Harvest Moon Design.

When Thayer students were barred from entering a hybrid vehicle in a Society of Automotive Engineers competition, they started their own in 2015, with major help from Thayer instructional engineer Douglas Fraser. Racing may drive many of the Formula Hybrid student competitors to design and build fuel-efficient high-performance cars. But for director Fraser, the real motive is getting students from other institutions to do what Thayer students do all the time: work across disciplines to solve complex problems.

Categories: Features

Tags: alumni, curriculum, design, entrepreneurship, faculty, formula hybrid, history, humanitarian service, innovation, innovation program, M.E.M., machine shop, projects, public policy, students

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