Innovative Ideas Series – Part 3

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‘It’s pretty neat it gets the job done so that’s good,” Tube Filler creator Sam Reiswig said.

UWS seniors Sam Reiswig and Brentton Paulus have always had a knack for creating things.

“I just made a simple LCD clock and Sam made a laser phone,” said Paulus.

Last summer the math and computer science majors were contacted to work with university staff to build an instrument that would drastically cut labor for students in the lab.

“I like it very much especially because it could be used in practice, so it could save some time,” UWS Professor of Computer Science Sergei Bezroukov said.

After months of drawings, coding, trial and error Reiswig and Paulus along with Bezroukov and UWS Professor of Chemistry Jim Lane built an automated fraction collector which they call the Tube Filler.

“There are two parts to this project,” said Reiswig. “One was a software part that me and Brenton worked on and the other part was this microcontroller part.”

From a user standpoint the Tube Filler automatically separates out the components of a substance so scholars can study it in the lab.

“So there might be just one protein out of a whole mixture of proteins from some organism,” said Lane. “The only one protein we’re interested in we need to use a method like this to separate out that one protein.”

Before the Tube Filler was created chemistry majors used to have to spend countless hours manually counting out hundreds of drops of liquid into the tube.

“They couldn’t really leave it alone because they might miscount or allow it to go too far for one test tube,” said Lane.

Now students just put the test tubes on a motor driven carousel, enter the number of drops and volume per tube and the device distributes it around the column freeing them up to do other things.

“That way we can learn more, do more projects in the lab,” said Lane.

The commercial version, which maybe has a few more bells and whistles, usually goes for $1,200 dollars.

But this version only cost Reiswig and Paulus about $30 dollars to make.

“With that sort of price tag with this we could potentially make more than one so that a group of students, a whole lab could be using this,” said Lane.

On top of that the two undergrads created the Tube Filler for no class credit or pay.

“I feel like we’ve provided a cool service to the school,” said Paulus.

“We both just really enjoy doing projects like these,” said Reiswig. “It’s fun, helps us learn more.”

The creative pair will be graduating and leaving campus soon but their device will remain helping current and future learners to come.

You can see all three parts of the Innovative Ideas series on

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