Greenbrier East engineering team wins $10,000 grant for cave tracking system

Top News

LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — Since 2003, the Lemelson MIT InvenTeams initiative has helped 2,900 high school students across the country by giving them access to grants for innovative ideas. Winning schools of these grants are then able put their ideas to work and present their work in an expo style forum. 

In our region, Greenbrier East High School started working towards winning this grant since April of this year.
A group of pre-engineering students started working on an idea for a new tool for cavers or people who explore dark, wild caves. 

When people explore caves in total darkness, anything can happen. When disaster strikes, its hard to know where you are let along get that information out to rescuers. It’s this situation that students in the InvenTeams group at Greenbrier East wanted to help with.

Olivia Warfield, a student at Greenbrier East said, “Basically, in the area we’ve had a lot of ‘caverers’ that have just gone and gotten lost in the caves so hearing their stories we kind of just took the idea and created, we created an idea on how to save them or prevent them these people getting lost any longer.”

So, a group of 17 students along with their pre-engineering teacher got to work on a Digital Junction Tracker for Caves. They drafted a proposal and submitted it to the Lemelson M-I-T foundation.

Jake McGilvray, also a student at Greenbrier East explained: “The idea in general is a radio transponder of sorts that will allow cavers to find their way in and out of caves so even if they did get lost, or the lights went out, or if they didn’t have a light with them then they be able to find their way out.”

After several month of waiting, Kevin Warfield, who leads this group for Greenbrier East, received some great news on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

“And we submitted the initial grant application with Lemelson MIT in April. In June we found out we were a finalist. …[T]hey announced the eight schools that were winners and Greenbrier East was awarded a ten-thousand-dollar grant,” said Kevin Warfield Pre-Engineering Teacher Greenbrier East High School.

Out of over 120 schools, the top eight ideas from high schoolers were chosen with Greenbrier East as one of them. This is the 2nd time Greenbrier East has won this grant.

With the $10,000 grant, the group intends to put their idea into practice with a prototype system. The new caving system will use low frequency radio waves and transponders to map where cavers traveled in a cave to give rescuers a head start instead of a blind one.  Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg opened their cave to students to test their theory and their tool in a safe, real-world setting. If the tool works, the group will move into a wild, unlit cave for some real-world testing.

Students of the engineering group and staff will head up to Boston to present their findings to MIT in an expo style event. Something the 17-student group is really excited for. The group plans on starting a social media presence at a later date but says information on the new site and upcoming fundraisers for travel costs will be posted to the Greenbrier East High School Facebook Page.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories