Students: Jacob Dubner ’17 and Jack Waters ‘17
Class: Research Science
What it does: The ORTube is a 3D-printed tool designed to help people accurately, easily, and inexpensively prepare and administer oral rehydration solution—consisting of salt, sugar, and clean water—in combination with a one-liter soda bottle.
How they did it: The duo researched the most effective proportions of salt and sugar, corroborating their findings with Magee Women’s Hospital gastroenterologist and WT alum Dr. Janet Harrison. They utilized 3D-modeling software program Fusion 360 to develop a tool that would measure accurately, load easily into a bottle with minimal spillage, and feature simple directions in six different languages. The ORTube was 3D printed with antibacterial plastic.
Inspiration for project: An AP Language and Composition reading assignment describing efforts to combat a cholera epidemic in India.
Target application: People who live in developing areas, where children are at high risk for contracting diarrheal diseases like rotavirus, cholera, and E. coli. According to the World Health Organization, each year diarrheal disease kills nearly 525,000 children under age five.
Biggest challenge: Avoiding deformities when 3D printing plastic models. ”Because of the large open cavities in the middle of the tube, we thought for most of the year that we’d have to find some way to change the design in order to remove the necessary support material,” recalls Jack. Iterations included a tube that splits in half and screws back together, and another made of water soluble plastic. “Eventually, we just tried increasing the infill—basically the density of the plastic—and eliminating all internal support materials, and because the design was sturdy enough, it didn’t have any problems. This was mildly infuriating because of all the time and plastic we spent on this problem, but it was satisfying to find a solution, and it reinforced the idea that simpler is almost always better.”
“Not all of the questions that we had to answer were clearly presented to us like they would be on a test in a regular course, and not all of answers clearly correlated to a strict curriculum for a single class,” adds Jacob. “Instead, we had to be the ones asking questions, recognizing problems, and solving those problems by drawing from the toolbox of skills that we have accumulated over the years. Because we were responsible for asking the right questions and making the key decisions, it was especially rewarding when we ended up with a successful product.”
Importance of STEM at WT: “STEM really teaches you how to confront issues,” asserts Jack. “If you know how to reach for and manipulate variables, you can put them towards finding solutions for very complex problems.”
Valuable Lesson Learned: “For me, the most valuable lesson is that when you direct your time and effort towards solving a problem in the real world, there is never really a definite and single finish line like there usually is in the classroom,” says Jacob