Innovators Represent Duke at ACCelerate Festival

4/24 Pratt School of Engineering

Blue Devil Ocean Engineering shows off its finalist entry in this year's Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Kids at a table putting together plastic experiments
Innovators Represent Duke at ACCelerate Festival

At the second annual ACCelerate Creativity and Innovation Festival, teams from schools belonging to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) traveled to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to showcase their work for crowds totaling 61,369. Among the 400+ innovators representing the 15 ACC institutions were two teams from Duke.

Blue Devil Ocean Engineering, a group of undergraduate and graduate students working to develop a solution to map the ocean floor, is a finalist in this year’s Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. The group was led by Associate Professor Martin Anthony Brooke and Assistant Professor Tyler Bletsch of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.Kids around a table full of plastic prosthetics

Duke eNable, a student-run organization based out of the Innovation Co-Lab, connects amputees in the Durham area with 3D-printed adaptive devices, free of cost—like the custom Spiderman web shooter arm they built for a four-year-old’s Halloween costume.

In the vibrant festival atmosphere teeming with bustling crowds and live performances, teams were able to discuss and engage with guests and other university groups about artistic and scientific projects.

A pre-festival reception also allowed teams to network and discuss each other’s projects without the distraction of busy museum crowds. Projects spanned disciplines, aiming to solve diverse problems: Syracuse University’s Artic LiDAR team traveled to Russia to map an inaccessible Arctic region to capture the environmental impact of melting ice caps; Whiskey Webs, from the University of Louisville, uses whiskey’s fluid properties to create elaborate web “fingerprints” for American whiskey in hopes of creating a check system to combat counterfeit batches.Martin Brooke stands with his student team's heavy lift drone

Crowds visiting Duke’s exhibits learned more about projects and engineering at Duke, looking at the Blue Devil Ocean Engineering team’s large heavy lift drone and deep ocean SONAR pod and participating in demonstrations with the eNable team.

The Duke teams were enthusiastic to share their work with the large crowds. “We thought this would be an incredible opportunity to display rapidly growing technology for social good, hopefully inspiring some of the visitors as well,” said Iris Chang of eNable. “[Young visitors] are growing up in a society where 3D printing is becoming accessible and universal. Showing them what 3D printing can do will hopefully inspire them to use this technology to make change as well.”