Carol Visnapuu

Engineering and sustainability students’ ingenuity was on display at the fourth annual EXPO Night on Dec. 12.

Gunnar Granito '20 and Briggs Gammill '20 present a fingerprint scanner to replace plastic student ID cards.

Students presented their semester-long projects, research posters, proposals, and petitions to the Berkshire community in the lobby of Bellas/Dixon Math and Science Center. Over 45 projects were on display including a robotic t-shirt folder, a drawbridge, a solar-powered plane, a quadcopter, a robotic fish, and a vertical garden.

"I'm so proud to see the students take pride in and ownership of their learning process," said Patrick Donovan, sustainability and science teacher. "The depth of knowledge and skills they are able to demonstrate creates a strong foundation for them to dig into critical thinking and inquiry on community systems and global context."

This year, sustainability students’ projects addressed real-world problems such as carbon emission reduction, plastic elimination and education, reducing and optimizing waste streams on campus, land and food, incarceration in America (social, education, and environmental justice), and fashion feedback loops. 

Focusing on how technology contributes to reduction of plastic use on campus, Briggs Gammill ’20 and Gunnar Granito ’20 presented a cost-effective, high-tech fingerprint scanner by IDEMIA. “We have been working on implementing fingerprint scanners at all main entrances of all buildings on campus,” said Granito. “The purpose is to replace our plastic student ID cards and create a more sustainable access into the buildings on campus.”

Other sustainability projects included practices in reducing Berkshire’s landfill input, specifically in dorms, by Dan Rayhill ’20 and Manny Roldan ’20, reducing overall use of plastics on campus by Rylan Kennedy ’21, and being sustainable in fashion by Julia Kurth ’20 to name a few.

Campbell Mecke '21 demonstrates how her Automatic Plant Watering System detects
the soil's moisture.

Engineering students used their design thinking to tackle and solve everyday problems. “Have you ever overwatered or underwatered your plants?” asked Campbell Mecke ’21 “Well, I certainly have.” Mecke’s solution to this problem was to design and code an Automatic Plant Watering System, which can detect the soil's moisture. “The best part of my project was to see how it transformed from scattered sections and then to see how it all came together right before Expo Night,” said Mecke.

Among some of the other innovative engineering projects were Jake Kuhn ’20’s temperature sensor, Nina Stoops ’21’s clap on/off light, George Pearce ’21’s home security alarm system, and Krissy Borowiak ’20’s rotating LED Christmas-colored lights.

To top off the evening, winter AMSR students made liquid Nitrogen ice cream in the lab. “I really enjoyed making the liquid Nitrogen ice cream and was amazed to see it freeze on the spot,” said AMSR student Devan Andreski '21. The ice cream was packaged in small containers with assorted toppings and then handed out to the students and guests to enjoy.