Teeny Tiny House

Anderson Page, SSH’13, with a combined degree in environmental science and political science

The entire staff at an Ohio diner left their posts one rainy morning last May, gawking at the curiosity that had pulled into the parking lot. On a trailer behind Anderson Page’s truck was an exceptionally small house—only 144 square feet—built with many of the green materials inherent in the tiny-house movement: eco-friendly insulation, a high-efficiency heater, reclaimed flooring, and green-certified siding and exterior trim.

Page’s senior project, which he says is “a reaction to the McMansionization of the suburbs,” aims to challenge the way Americans evaluate just how much space they really need. He says the space is comfortable—and this comes from a man more than 6 feet tall.
And he didn’t scrimp on amenities. “Some of the unique touches I added, which I have rarely seen in other designs, include a full-size kitchen sink, a built-in full-size couch, and a built-in sound system,” says Page, who graduated last spring with a combined degree in environmental science and political science.

Page spent the fall semester planning and designing, began building in January, and chronicled the process on a blog titled “Tall Man, Tiny Mansion.” Now more than ever, he’s convinced that the project, a way to blend his love of carpentry with environmental studies, will lead to the establishment of his own construction company.

“I’m so glad I had this project and learned all that I did. I also know that I could do so much better and can’t wait to build another one.”

Crank It, Drink It

Antonio Rufo, E’14, computer engineering major
Scott Goldberg, E’14, computer engineering major and technological entrepreneurship minor
Matthew Mahagan, E’14, computer engineering major and technological entrepreneurship minor
Don Gothing, E’13, with a degree in mechanical engineering

One of the world’s biggest public-health problems—884 million people without access to clean drinking water—was the inspiration for FilterLight, an easy-to-use, low-cost, water purification system.

After pouring water into the FilterLight container, the user cranks the handle for about a minute and a half. A motor engages and powers a set of internal LEDs that mutate the DNA of any bacteria present to halt reproduction. Bacteria reproducing rampantly in the intestines is one reason humans get sick after ingesting contaminated water. 

FilterLight earned the undergraduate award in the “Engineering and Technology” category and the special “Excellence in Innovation” award at this year’s RISE (Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo) event. 

The team says that its biggest challenge wasn’t the technology—it was trying to develop a viable business model to bring FilterLight to the maximum number of customers. Now that the device is part of IDEA, Northeastern’s student- and alumni-run venture accelerator, the team hopes to capitalize on the group’s expert business services and funding opportunities to get the device into mass production.

Smart Toothbrush

Esfandiar Kaikhosrowzadeh, ME’13, with a degree in chemical engineering
Jeff Kent, E’14, chemical engineering major
Samuel Levine, E’16, mechanical engineering major
Getao Li, E’13, with a degree in industrial engineering
Ameya Mehendale, ME’13, with a degree in chemical engineering
Dan Shores, E’16, mechanical engineering major

Joan Lynch

Wouldn’t it be cool if a toothbrush could detect when your teeth were truly free of plaque so you could stop brushing? Ameya Mehendale conceived of just such a “smart” toothbrush, then collaborated with five other engineering students at Northeastern’s Engineers for the Greater Good competition to develop the details. Their business plan won first place, earning the team a stipend to bring the smart brush to reality.

The toothbrush would work in conjunction with fluorescent toothpaste that adheres to bacteria. LED light would shine on the smart toothbrush’s head, explains Mehendale, and the toothpaste’s fluorescence would be detected by a sensor. Once most of the bacteria were washed away, the fluorescence would cease and a red light on the toothbrush handle would turn green—signaling clean teeth.

“We’re looking into getting an Arduino [an open-source electronics prototyping platform], some LEDs, and a light sensor to start prototyping,” says Dan Shores.