UMD Students Create Tech to Help Fight Off School Threats

Competition of 9 schools to create an Active Threat Emergency System

DULUTH, Minn.- Multiple school shootings have rocked the nation recently. In order to help stop those threats, UMD Engineering students have created groundbreaking technology to help law enforcement in situations like those.

Eight colleges competed with UMD in the Air Force Research Lab Design Challenge.

UMD Students won by creating a new Active Threat Emergency System, a victory despite the circumstances surrounding it.

Over 2 semesters, the team researched, designed and built the system.

It’s made up of a motion detector that works through solid objects, a Snakescope camera to see through cracks and around corners, radar that detects movement in a room up to 200 feet, and a mobile phone detector to detect cell phone signals.

The team designed the system as cost-efficiently as they could. They received help from various officials, including members of the Air Force and local law enforcement.

“It really brings it home, especially to the students I think, when they are able to see their designs and their technologies employed that can actually save lives,” said Michael Lazalier, Technical Advisor with the Air Force and Program Manager for the Challenge.

“It’s not just a design competition, it’s not just a grade, it’s not just a class to graduate. It’s actually a problem out there that they can help solve, and where they can actually make a contribution and help save lives.”

The system could also be used for Military or Law Enforcement to search collapsed buildings for survivors, and search cars for kidnapped individuals. The motion detector can even detect breathing, and the mobile phone detector can pick up signals belonging to the phone of someone trapped, or that of a criminal.

But these students felt personally motivated to prevent active shooter threats.

“It’s great to feel like we’re actually doing something and taking part in providing a solution,” said one of the student engineers, Dan Janasz.

“It’s difficult to hear different active threat scenarios going around, to have products that could help is very great.”

The University maintains ownership of the products, but officials encourage students to pursue patents and eventually sell their technologies.

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