By Sara Elizabeth Cody
For junior Zachary Lasiuk (EE’17), inspiration hit when he least expected it. A seasoned saxophone player, his personal experience performing on the street in Copley Square inspired his winning entry, a tool to enhance live musical performance, in the fifth annual Imagineering Competition. The competition invites undergraduates to submit projects that showcase their creativity and entrepreneurial capabilities for a chance to win cash prizes.
“The goal is to encourage self-guided engineering projects that are created outside of the classroom,” said Richard Lally, Associate Dean of ENG Administration, who served on the panel of judges. “This provides an opportunity for students to solve real-world engineering problems while taking advantage of resources the College has to offer, like the Binoy K. Singh Imagineering Laboratory.”
Each contestant gave a short presentation and demonstration about the origin of the idea, the purpose of the prototype, design features, the build/assembly process, and a brief description of potential market and customer impact. All submissions were judged by a panel of five ENG faculty and administrators on the basis of originality, ingenuity, and creativity of the project; the quality of the design and prototype; the functionality of the project; and the relationship of all these areas.
While certain instruments, like the guitar, have evolved to incorporate more exciting technological advancements to enhance performances, wind instruments have remained largely unchanged. Lasiuk designed a portable attachment for his saxophone featuring an interactive LED light display, a speaker system to play accompanying music and a “loop button” that would allow him to record and play back sound, like beatboxing, to create a more engaging and interactive performance. Not only would this product be beneficial to musicians during live performances, but it also has the potential to be used as a teaching tool by programming the LED lights to correspond with the notes so music teachers could demonstrate what they are playing to their students in real time. Lasiuk also submitted a detailed business analysis exploring what it would mean to take his product to market, noting he planned to continue working on his product over the summer.
“There is so much potential for expansion with this product because nothing on the market integrates a live visual and audio experience quite like this,” said Lasiuk during his presentation. “It’s meant to get people’s attention, which is half the battle as a performing musician.”
Lasiuk netted the $3,000 cash prize, while the team of Evan Lowell (CE’16) and Mehmet Akbulut (ME’16)received second place $1,500 prize for their design to increase the efficiency of solar panels by using an attachment that would allow them to track the sun and adjust their position accordingly. Osi Van Dessel (ME’16) won third place and the $1,000 prize for his project creating a light-based communication system to transmit information from space to ground.
Prizes for the Imagineering Competition are provided by John Maccarone (ENG’66).
The Binoy K. Singh Imagineering Laboratory, which opened in the Fall 2011, gives students the resources to take on extracurricular engineering initiatives and think about new ways to address society’s challenges. The Singh Imagineering Lab provides easy access to entrepreneurially minded College of Engineering students, and other BU students working with them, without limiting the topic or timeframe of use. Using the lab’s tools and machinery—and guidance from faculty, graduate students and undergraduate peers—students are encouraged to pursue their ideas and designs and even commercialization ideas.