Group uses MIT grant to invent cable that lights when touched
Charles E. Shoemaker/The Gazette
The idea was simple — create an illuminated cable to distinguish it from other cables, which can get lost in a jumble of wires under most desks.
Clarksburg High School junior Alex Ivanov of Clarksburg, first introduced the concept of making one cable stand out from another during a brainstorming session at a meeting of the school's Inventors Club, the Coyote Inventors.
"It was a giant hassle, thinking how you would know [which cord was which]," Ivanov said.
He came up with the idea of a cable that would light up when touched.
Ivanov's idea struck a chord with the other club members as they were trying to decide which of the invention ideas they had generated to pursue.
The students along with sponsors Sarah Debelius Costlow and Paul Koda applied for a grant from the Lemelson-MIT Inven Team initiative, a program designed to inspire the next generation of inventors. The school was one of 16 in the country awarded grants, Debelius Costlow said.
"The Clarksburg High School InvenTeam's project was selected because all the judges agreed that this invention would be useful in daily life for alleviating the frustration of working with tangled computer cables," Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program's invention education officer, said in an e-mail.
The club is using the nearly $9,000 grant to bring its idea to fruition and will present the finished product, named the Torch Cord, at the EurekaFest in Cambridge, Mass., in June.
"Most high school students have fantastic ideas but no way to channel them, so we hope to do that," Koda said.
It helps that Koda is a patent attorney and knows the path the students have to travel as they take their idea to finished product.
After winning the grant, the students formed a team of 10.
Junior Micaela Larson of Germantown, is the financial officer.
"And about $800 for nutrients like pizza," Shrey Tarpara, a junior from Boyds, added.
Larson also has to generate financial reports to be sent to MIT.
"We are halfway through the project and halfway through the money," Larson said.
Ian Grissom, a junior from Clarksburg and one of the chief engineers for the project, held a USB cable wrapped in black electrical tape and covered with a spiral of neon green glow wire.
"This is our most recent prototype. We've had many pre-prototypes but this is the first that is complete," Grissom said.
Grissom said the product fulfills the parameters of the project, but they hope to further refine it before June.
The students are doing much more than solving a problem with their unique computer cable, Koda said.
To follow the progress
To learn more about the Clarksburg High School Inventor's Club project visit the group's Web site at www.cicmd.org.