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Exceptional Aggies: Engineering students make life-saving alert device for service dogs

The team of students made a prototype of a toy attachment on a service dog's vest that will alert others when their handler is in danger.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Even in a pandemic, Texas A&M is still churning out exceptional aggies doing amazing work to make life easier for others. 

One team from the engineering school is hoping their project will save the lives of those who need a little help from man’s best friend.

“From the minute we saw the options for the projects we knew this is the one we wanted to do because everyone on our team has always had a big passion for helping others,” said TAMU Mechanical Engineering student, Claire Riodan. 

Engineering students like Claire have worked on several senior design projects before, but were especially drawn to their latest one. There is no set name for it yet, but they refer to it as a Seizure Alert System Activated by a Service Dog.

Usually, students talk to a company or entity sponsoring their project, but this time, it was a little more personal. It was a family, not a corporate entity, that saw a specific need in their life, but they didn’t know what to do.

The family wanted a way for a service dog to tell people when their handler was having a seizure. So the engineering school team got to work and created their prototype. 

“Basically, how it works is there’s an attachment to this service dog’s vest. There’s this like, little chew toy on the end and the dog just pulls it," said TAMU Mechanical Engineering student, TJ Chorba, "that sends a signal to whoever they want it to go to.”

The team's viable design was successful and they made a fully functioning prototype where someone could pull the device and send a text.

There is still a lot of testing that needs to be done before their product can go on the market. The design can be used to help service dog handlers in any kind of trouble, and Claire and TJ are just proud to do their part to keep others safe. 

“To get to talk to the family and see how excited they get, it creates so much more impactful of a connection between us and our market when we can directly see where it’s going to be implemented," Claire said.

Claire and TJ's team hope to pass this project on to future seniors to help improve it.