Machines are like people.
To perform effectively, they need the right fuel.
For lawn mowers and weed whackers, it’s all about the ratio of oil to gas. Mix it too rich and the engine smokes or the carburetor clogs. Mix it too weak and the engine could blow altogether.
Linnea Penney and Brittany Marchbank had seen plenty of misfires in their day, so the two Electronic Engineering Technician students set out to change things.
The challenge was part of an assignment in their microcontroller applications class, and they had just three weeks to pull it off.
Through solid research and their knowledge of two-stroke engines, the Pictou Campus students hit upon a winning idea: a gas cap with an internal fuel monitoring system to aid in mixing the oil and gas.
They beat out 17 other teams to take top prize in the Innovation category of the Boyne Clarke Innovative Ideas Competition for post-secondary students. Their successful pitch also won them $5,000 toward getting their product to market.
Linnea and Brittany were shocked to find nothing quite like their invention already out there, especially since it seemed like such a simple solution for a common problem.
“I think everyone just kind of eyeballs it,” says Linnea, “and they’ve always just been fine with doing that until God forbid, you blow up your engine. Then you wish you had something to help you mix it properly.”
The hardest part was figuring out how to interface the sensor and LCD, and the prototype came together just a few days before deadline.
“We’re not really marketing students, either, so it took a lot of time to research the marketing side for our presentations,” Brittany recalls.
The students have a year to patent their idea and they must have it approved by the Canadian Standards Association. Yet they already have their first customer: a local hardware chain plans to stock their product as soon as it’s available.