Team Wins $10,000 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Award to Develop Automatic Emergency Tourniquet Prototype
On October 14th, a team of seven TJ seniors led by Computer Science teacher Ria Galanos (see below) received a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant toward the development of the team’s invention, an improved emergency tourniquet. The team’s automatic tourniquet, which is more affordable, precise, and user-friendly than other leading emergency tourniquets, is meant to improve the quality and accessibility of emergency care, especially in developing countries. Its design is based on that of surgical tourniquets which, like blood-pressure cuffs, inflate automatically, and employs a unique algorithm to scan through a pressure range until a distal pulse is not present and blood flow has stopped.
From her experience as a volunteer member of an emergency response team, Bijal Rajput, TJ ’16, knew that emergency tourniquets are difficult to use properly. In developing countries, where the injured are often far from a hospital, improper tourniquet use can cause permanent damage due to excessive or insufficient constriction. The team’s inexpensive, automatic tourniquet could be used in the field by those with little or no training.
Dhriti Vij, TJ ’16, heard about InvenTeam from her sister, a 2013 TJ grad who was impressed when Mr. Hannum’s group won the award that year (right). The group first discussed forming a team when they bonded while studying for Dr. Brian Kennedy’s Organic Chemistry tests during their second semester of junior year (coincidentally, Dr. Kennedy has also coached a winning team, bottom). They will spend the next few months — both inside and outside of school — preparing to demonstrate their prototype at the program’s annual EurekaFest event held in June at MIT (follow their progress @APTourniquet). The team also intends to apply for a patent.
Lemelson-MIT grants, funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, are given annually to about fifteen teams based on the proposed ideas’ inventiveness and feasibility. TJ is the only school to have received the grant four times.
The Teacher Behind the Winning Team: Ria Galanos
The Lemelson-MIT program requires that an educator be responsible for filing the grant application, monitoring funds, and supporting student teams throughout the grant cycle. After submitting a first-round application, educators selected as finalists are invited, all expenses paid, to MIT in June to learn about the program from the current year’s winning teams as they showcase their working prototypes. Only those educators who attend the June event are eligible to submit a final application. Winners are notified in mid-October.
Although the program contemplates that the educator, in addition to handling administrative duties, will also have conceived of the invention and recruited the students, that’s not how it happened at TJ. Instead, the student team brought their idea to Ms. Galanos, who was impressed with their technical and organizational skills and agreed to serve as their designated faculty member.
This was not the first time that Ms. Galanos, who teaches three sections of AP Computer Science, two sections of Android Mobile App Development, and serves as the assistant division manager for the math and computer science division, has said yes to a student or student group. She sponsored the Technovation Challenge app development team that made it to World Finals in 2013 (see May/June 2013 issue) and currently sponsors the 8th period club Coding Lady Colonials, the club responsible for HackTJ (see June 2015 issue) and the new CSisterhood (connecting groups of freshman and sophomore TJ girls with one senior TJ girl who serves as their computer science mentor). Her Twitter handle — her license plate is an abbreviated version — is @cscheerleader.
In her “free” time, she is a table leader at the AP Computer Science Exam Reading each June, has conducted AP Computer Science student review sessions for both the National Math and Science Initiative and the Colorado Legacy Foundation, and serves on several computer science-related and education-related boards. Since 2010 she has devoted her summers to broadening participation in coding generally and among underrepresented groups as an instructor at the Institute for Computing Education at Georgia Tech, at a coding camp for rising 9th-graders at Google, and at Girls Who Code in Miami, Florida. She also teaches coding to adult women through Women Who Code DC.