Tandon School of Engineering students won a say in how a five-year, billion-dollar construction project will impact the neighborhood of DUMBO, Brooklyn.
At Tandon’s MakerHack event, Executive Director of the DUMBO Improvement District Alexandria Sica said that the historic Belgian-block streets will temporarily be removed to replace 150-year-old water and sewer lines.
“It’s a major win for preservation and it’s a major win for modernization,” Sica said.
The once-industrial, now-residential neighborhood is known for its rapid recent development and influx of tourists. A large construction effort could impede the flow of tourist-driven income that many small businesses in the area rely on.
More than 70 students came up with ways to soften the blow and competed for over $5,000 in cash prizes at the event hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The winner of the event would gain the opportunity to have their project pitched to Sica’s board for potential implementation. Students had 24 hours to use the equipment in Tandon’s MakerSpace to create a physical prototype of the water and sewer lines. An emphasis was put on coming up with a method of construction that would help promote the quality of life for tourists and businesses in the neighborhood.
“[The students] are working to keep DUMBO alive during this massive reconstruction,” organizer of the event and ASME NYU Chapter President Brianna Migliaccio said.
Some students created prototypes that presented a new form of approaching construction while others built systems that would work alongside the already planned project. One project suggested replacing street tiles with glass panels so pedestrians could look through at the work taking place in hopes of maintaining tourists’ interest in the area.
NYU students were not the only participants at the event. Students from Columbia, Cornell and other institutions competed for the opportunity to pitch their prototypes.
However, the NYU students were the only ones to take away the grand prize, with Tandon junior Riley Paterson and his team winning first place. He and his team prototyped a project titled “Powered by You” that turns mechanical pressure into electrical energy. One example of this is that under Patersons’ plan, if a pedestrian were to walk onto a pressure plate it would trigger beautification elements, such as street lights. This would conserve energy while ensuring a better quality of life for tourists and pedestrians in general.
Riley told WSN that his prototype could be used for a variety of different applications in the neighborhood, such as beautifying construction walls with light and projection patterns. He said he owes his win to his team.
Sica will present Riley’s idea, along with an array of other prototypes, to her board with the possibility of making it into a reality.
“There is a lot more due diligence that needs to be done,” Sica said. “But we would love to implement some of the ideas that come out of today’s session.”
Email Jared Peraglia at [email protected].