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Francis Tuttle students design engineering projects in Oklahoma City

Francis Tuttle Technology Institute engineering design students showcased their work in Oklahoma City last week.
By Sarah Lobban, For The Oklahoman Modified: April 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm •  Published: May 1, 2014

“Don’t you hate it when...?” was the premise Jimmy Bollman posed to his engineering design and development capstone class.

The 24 seniors at Francis Tuttle Technology Institute in Oklahoma City had to fill in an answer to the deceptively simple prompt. Then they had a year to come up with a solution.

Their projects culminated last week, when the institute held a three-hour showcase to display the students’ work. Each of the nine groups displayed a working prototype and explained the process by which they created and refined their projects.

One group built an unmanned drone that would allow firefighters to better track a raging wildfire. A second team designed a wheelchair lift that would reduce back injuries to health care providers when they lift patients.

“We’re very proud of these students,” Bollman said. “These projects require a tremendous time commitment, both in and out of class. Our goal is to get them to start thinking like engineers.”

This was the 11th showcase, and it marked a first occurrence at the school.

‘Had to do something’

This year, one of the groups applied for a patent for its invention, an inexpensive, effective tornado shelter that would fit inside individual classrooms.

“We saw the devastation at Plaza Towers after the May 20 tornado last year and realized we had to do something,” said Ryan Bernardy, one of the three students who worked on the Tornado Instashelter. “The larger shelters are very expensive, and that’s why a lot of schools don’t have them.”

Bernardy, with teammates Ryan Conser and Michael Nilson, designed and built a fold-out shelter that will attach to the walls of a classroom and can be assembled in less than a minute. With help from Bernardy’s father, they applied for a patent, which is pending.

“We were excited about that,” Nelson said. “Our shelter also has several other advantages over traditional shelters. It would also help protect students from an armed intruder, and since it’s an aboveground shelter, there’s no danger of flooding.”

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