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George Crowson '17 (right) explains part of the technology that will be used in the "The First 72 Hours" project to Sadie Coughlin-Prego '16 and Andrey Gavrilov '15.

Intel selects EC to test newest technology

February 28, 2014

Earlham is one of three institutions nationwide selected by Intel to receive its newest microcontroller Galileo to develop disaster response and recovery technologies.

Georgia Tech and UC Berkeley also received the Galileo boards, which are not yet available to the public. Earlham and UC Berkeley had Hackathons on Saturday, Feb. 15, to brainstorm ideas and begin implementation.

A multidisciplinary group of Earlham students led by Professor of Computer Science Charlie Peck, who also has more than 23 years experience as a volunteer firefighter and first responder, named their project “The First 72 Hours.”

“Intel learned about our interest in working with the Arduino (microcontroller), and they asked us if we would be interested in testing their new (Galileo) boards,” says Ben Yee ’15.Ben -yee5

“Intel first contacted UNICEF to discuss disaster recovery needs,” says Peck. During the Hackathon, UNICEF supplied subject matter expertise and guidance from the Innovation in Humanitarian Action program.

A multidisciplinary team

Earlham’s team, which is comprised of computer science, biology, chemistry, business and nonprofit management and biochemistry majors, chose two ideas, which they will develop and refine for the remainder of the semester.

“We decided to create an earthquake detection system, and a second project is a water quality testing system,” Yee says. Current systems are costly and bulky.

“Existing systems require actual computers,” Yee says.

Advantages to the Galileo boards are that they are far more powerful than the Arduino board and feature connectivity through USB (host and client), 100 Mbps Ethernet, microSD, RS-232, and a full-size mini PCI Express slot.

“The Galileo boards have more capabilities than the Arduino in that they have an operating system on them,” says George Crowson ’17. “It’s like a computer from 12 years ago, but’s it’s a cheap, simple computer to do calculations. The Galileo makes it easier to interact with outside sensors.”

Time and clean water

For example, the students working on the earthquake detector are incorporating an accelerometer to detect seismic activity. This activity will be measured and sent to a central server, and when several detectors report similar readings, an alert will be issued.

“The water quality project will allow first responders to quickly have the ability to test water after a disaster to see if it is safe to drink or if it has been contaminated by human byproducts or other contaminants,” Yee says. The groups hope to have prototypes of each device by the end of the semester.

“We also want to build platforms that are open, both hardware and software, so that others may easily and inexpensively use them,” Yee says.

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