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Device to Prevent Accidental Drowning Wins Jackson Award

Mar 16, 2023

A team of Dartmouth undergraduates who developed a device to protect small children from accidental drowning won this term's Phillip R. Jackson Award for best overall performance in ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering.

The winning team—Justin Chong '24, Divya Chunduru '23, Ava Jacques '25, Allie Roehm '25, and Mia Seymour '23—pursued this invention after learning that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for young children ages one to four, with a majority of incidents taking place under adult supervision. The team's final prototype, "Oh Buoy!" is a lightweight harness that rapidly transforms into a flotation device when submerged in water.

With the support of MShop technical instructor Izzy LaBombard and teaching assistant Emily Lukas '24, and after multiple prototypes underwent rigorous user-testing, the team was able to build a comfortable, flexible device that young children are more likely to wear than a bulky life jacket.

"The evolution of this design—the research and iterations to the point where it's streamlined and adorable—this is the gold standard for ENGS 21 projects," said Lukas.

The Jackson Award, named after a former member of Thayer's Board of Advisors, is awarded each term based on the following criteria:

  • Societal importance of the selected problem;
  • User-centered design considerations;
  • Sophistication of the design and degree of difficulty;
  • Functionality and testing of the prototype;
  • Holistic approach to the engineering design process; and
  • Consistent outstanding performance on both written and oral milestones.

"I am inspired by the tremendous creativity and hard work that all of the students put into this class, and I am grateful for their efforts and for those of everyone who contributed to ENGS 21 this winter," said Scott Snyder, adjunct assistant professor of engineering, who taught this term's course.

See more about all Winter 2023 ENGS 21 projects.

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