Intern's Invention Could Help to Save Lives
At the Foundry in Plano, Texas, interns are often given very simple instructions: "Here's a problem. Solve it." Nancy took it a step further. Nancy went to her supervisor and said, "I see a problem and I want to solve it."
Like many of us, Nancy saw too many stories this past summer about kids and pets left in hot cars. She decided to take action. Nancy had the basics figured out: a sensor that would send an alert. With help from the team at the Foundry, Nancy's design is becoming reality. A prototype is in the works and Nancy has been doing much of the work herself.
"When the idea first popped into my head, I sent an email explaining the idea," Nancy said. "I didn't expect them to say, 'I like that. Let's start working on it.'"
How it works
Here's how her idea works: sensors in the car use motion detectors and monitor carbon dioxide levels to determine whether there is a person or animal inside. You would receive a text message letting you know that someone is in your vehicle. It's a safety net for children and pets – and can work as an anti-theft device as well. From there, temperature sensors take over, alerting you if it becomes too hot or too cold … even calling 911 if necessary.
Nancy expected that her AT&T internship experience would be more than fetching coffee and job shadowing, but actually creating a product goes beyond her hopes. She says her time with the company has been inspirational.
"At first, being in school, I felt like it would be very hard to do anything like this until I was a lot older. It seemed kind of bleak to be able to affect people's lives," she said. "When I saw I could get that kind of support here, it was a real confidence-booster. It helped me to realize that I can do whatever I want if I set my mind to it."
Nancy is currently back in school. She'll graduate this summer, and even though her internship has ended, she still goes back to the Foundry from time to time to check in on her project. She even rolls up her sleeves and does a little work.
What could you do with your vacation?