A team of students from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources took first place in the Student Organization Pitch Competition that was held on February 15, at West Virginia University’s Launch Lab.
The competition allowed student organizations to pitch an idea for a product, event, fundraiser or business that would benefit both student members and the community. WVU’s Amateur Radio Club presented their idea to transform a portable light tower, typically used for construction, into a mobile communications trailer.
The tower has a 30-foot extendable mast and a 60-hour run time, making it ideal for this purpose. By incorporating multiple radios, antennas and a repeater system into the tower design, WVUARC would be able to offer reliable communications services during emergencies and events throughout the state all for less than $2,500.
Teams were judged on five categories: problem identification, solution feasibility, target market/audience, sustainability and use of funding. WVUARC scored the highest, beating five other teams to win the top prize of $1,500.
“The prize money will play a large role in pushing the club to the finish line of completing this project,” said Oliver Wiegand, a computer science and computer engineering major from Morgantown and WVUARC president. “The mobile communications trailer is really an important addition to the club's inventory so that we can expand our operational capabilities.”
Amateur radio operations are important during natural disasters and emergency situations when power and cell phone service may be disabled.
While WVUARC does currently provide communication services in and around the Morgantown area, their equipment can only reach so far. The addition of a mobile communications trailer will allow them to expand their operations to the entire state and country if needed.
“Since HAM operators are licensed at a federal level, if needed, we could drive this trailer anywhere in the country and respond to the needs of that situation,” said Wiegand. “We believe that every club can greatly expand their capabilities with the addition of a mobile communications platform and hope that this project will be an example on how to build a very effective mobile communications platform on a limited budget.”
WVUARC is in the process of raising the additional funds needed to complete the project and expect to have the mobile communications trailer in service by the end of the semester.
For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources:
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