Project Invent Combines Engineering and Entrepreneurship to Help Others

Students who participated in Project Invent this year and last year presented their purpose, process and final products at Morning Ex last week. Project Invent is a first-semester class that pairs students with a community partner for whom the students must use their design thinking and engineering skills to create a product that would help improve the community partner’s life.

First, this year's students, seniors Riya Jain and Thewfic Anwar, explained the concept of the class and its connection to its nonprofit namesake, Project Invent, which encourages students to build products to better the world. Jain and Anwar then challenged the crowd to come up with some invention ideas that would help with climate change. A select few walked up on stage to share their idea with the crowd, who then voted for the best one with cheers. This process demonstrated the culminating pitch aspect of the Project Invent, which this year’s class will partake in this May.

As this year’s pitch process has yet to happen, two of last year’s students, juniors Ellis Brown and Zarin Mehta, then explained their process in creating their invention, the “Exo-hand,” which aimed to help their community partner with opening and closing her hand, as she has lost mobility due to an accident. The group worked with professionals at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Google to help with their pitch and product design. At their demonstration day, the group’s efforts resulted in the Moonshot Award and $500 in funding to continue the development of their invention. The students had a wonderful experience and encouraged their classmates to consider this intricate course.

“I would recommend this class to any Upper School student who is interested in entrepreneurship, engineering or making an impact on your community,” Brown said.

Jain and Thewfic returned to discuss their invention for this year, the “Love Band,” inspired by Jain’s grandmother, who suffers from ALS. The “Love Band” consists of two or more wirelessly connected bracelets that light up and have recorded, encouraging messages for loved ones to always have a connection with one another during harder times. The pair used a laser cutter and 3D printer for different variations of their prototype, and they are continuing their work in preparation for their demonstration day this May.

Parker is proud to offer this collaborative and unique class that brings the design thinking process to life in the name of helping others. The school wishes the “Love Band” group luck and success on their demonstration day.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.