ATLANTA - Engineering students at Drew Charter School are putting the final touches on a device designed to prevent hot car deaths.
They've been working for months to develop a three-step warning system that uses a temperature gauge, infrared technology, ignition and weight sensors to detect the presence of a baby left alone in a hot car.
"First, text messages will be sent to the parent," said Jeffrey Barber, a senior. "If the temperature continues to rise, that's when we reach our next point where the vocal alarm is set off."
A recorded message would play through the stereo or car alarm.
It says, "Danger, danger, the occupant in this vehicle needs help."
"If it reaches another threshold of even higher temperatures, that's when we send a text message to the authorities," Barber explained.
They earned $10,000 in grant money to invent a technological solution to a real-world problem.
They began brainstorming last summer.
"We saw that hot car deaths were a prevalent problem, especially with the Ross Harris case that was around back then," said Noa Holloway, a junior.
Harris was in the news as he prepared for trial in the fall of 2016.
After weeks of testimony, the Cobb County father was found guilty of murder in his son’s hot car death two years earlier.
"This is going to save lives, and life is precious," explained Barber.
The third-year engineering students are using a 3-D printer to create the plastic casing for their device.
They also designed giant cardboard cutouts to build a model car that will help demonstrate how it works.
"It's different from all the other products on the market," said teacher Beth White. "The students will get the opportunity to present their designs and innovation in front of some really technically savvy people to get additional feedback."
After their presentation at MIT in June, they'll try to get a patent for their device.
"I'm extremely proud of them," White added. "They've worked hard. They've spent nights and weekends here."
The students are raising money to pay for their trip to MIT and expenses related to the patent process.
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