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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Keyless Dorm Lock Wins Thayer’s Jackson Award

By Anna Fiorentino
July 2017 • CoolStuff

The panicky feeling of losing one's keys is almost universal. But a recent Intro to Engineering (ENGS 21) team received Thayer's Phillip R. Jackson Award* for an invention that could prevent key panic—at least for college students locked out of their rooms.

Michael Duane ’19, Ben Wolsieffer ’20, Joey Carleo ’20, Tony Kirumba ’19, and Avery Kaplan ’19 developed a keyless access system that could retrofit onto the existing deadbolts in Dartmouth’s dorm rooms. The system, called the "Doorman," uses a card reader to scan a student's ID and opens the deadbolt—helping to avoid lost key fees. The Doorman can also work through a smartphone app that allows others to have access to the room by registering their ID for that lock.

The Doorman Team photo
The Doorman Team (l to r): Ben Wolsieffer ’20, Joey Carleo ’20, Tony Kirumba ’19, Avery Kaplan ’19, Michael Duane '19

“We have all lived in dorms and understand not just the complications of dorm room access at Dartmouth, but also the potential for a wide array of applications of our product,” Duane explains. “Students often opt to leave their doors unlocked because they want to avoid accidental lockouts, they want to be able to allow friends to enter their rooms when they are not present, and they don’t want to spend time keeping track of their key. These factors compromise security and make for a really solid use case for our product.”

Contained within a laser-cut wood block and external thermoform shell, the Doorman is comprised of an interchangeable adapter that fits over a deadbolt lock. The device is magnetically mounted to a steel axle-plate component and driven by a pulley. With a mill, the group machined the steel plate to a metal axle and then brazed the axle to the plate. They used electronics to control the stepper motor, and an RFID sensor and Arduino Pro Mini to authenticate card access. The actual lock is turned by the rotation of the adapter, which fits over the deadbolt lock at the base of the shaft.

“These students deserved to win the Jackson Award primarily because their device was an impeccable display of engineering design,” says Sean Howe ’16, Th’17, Professor Vicki May’s teaching assistant who oversaw the group. “The prototype worked flawlessly both during testing and in their final presentation.”

“Our device requires no modification to the dorm on the part of the College, and does not damage the door in any way, so an individual student could buy one, install it, and remove it at the end of the year,” says Carleo. “If we wanted to bring this to market, we thought of renting them by term.”

Howe agreed the device could have a major positive impact on campus life.

“Since Dartmouth has many older buildings, the Doorman could certainly be implemented without an expensive overhaul of technology on the administration's part," says Howe. "And most importantly, it would help the students feel more protected.”

*Each quarter, the Phillip R. Jackson Award—named after and established by the former Thayer Board of Overseers member—is given to the group with the best overall performance in ENGS 21 as determined by the Review Board which applies the following criteria:

Tags: award, design, innovation, projects, students

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