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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Black Engineering Students Honored for Innovative Proposals

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Students who proposed new ways of preventing adverse effects from medical devices, increasing recycling participation, and heading off cyber attacks won a competition sponsored by Draper Laboratory and hosted by the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE).

The 2012 Draper Technical Challenge Competition for NSBE members showcased student members’ innovative problem solving, technical writing, and presentation skills. The winners were all students at Northeastern University in Boston.

Oliver Maurice, a mechanical engineering student, won the $2,000 first place prize for his technical paper on using inert carbon nano-tube coating, coupled with an immunosuppressant release system, to prevent adverse reactions to implanted medical devices.

Samantha Kendrick, a civil engineering student, received the $1,000 second prize for her proposal to improve recycling efficiency through methods including tax incentives proportionate to amount recycled and with an end-to-end closed loop recycling process. Idriys Harris, a computer engineering student, won the $500 third prize for his paper describing a combination of technical tools, virtualization, and human-centered precautions to avoid cyber attacks.

“The message we heard from the student leadership from day one was ‘this is the type of competition we need for our members,’” said Barry Henry, a senior member of the technical staff at Draper, and a contest judge. “Both parties were highly motivated, and the collaboration has been great. It comes as no surprise to see the tremendous growth over the last two years, and we hope to keep it going.”

“Draper provides a unique opportunity for NSBE students,” said Sarah Brown, Draper Laboratory Fellow and former NSBE National Technical OutReach Community Help Chair. “As a research environment, the problems Draper engineers work on are uniquely challenging, similar to those found in academic settings, but without the distractions of academic service.”

NSBE is one of the largest student-run organizations in the country. Its mission is to “increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

This marks the second year that Draper Laboratory has sponsored these scholarships for the NSBE Region 1 chapter, which includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Ontario and Quebec. The final round of the Technical Challenge Competition was held at the NSBE Region 1 Fall Regional Conference in Parsippany, New Jersey, on Nov. 17. At the conference, finalists selected based on paper submissions presented their solutions to challenge problems posed by Draper staff.

Other Draper participation included a booth at the conference’s career fair and hosting the Academic Excellence and Competitors reception where Sharon Donald, director of internal research and development, gave the keynote address. Donald, Henry, and Phil Babcock, Draper’s director of system engineering and evaluation, judged the Technical Challenge.

Additionally, Christopher Robinson, a member of Draper’s technical staff, presented a collegiate workshop on how to succeed in one's first engineering job, and Sarah Brown presented a study skills workshop for pre-collegiate members.

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