Civil engineering student on Aggies Invent experience

Purvit Soni, master’s student in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, and his team recently participated in Aggies Invent. Aggies Invent is a 48-hour intensive design experience offered at the Engineering Innovation Center at Texas A&M, a 20,000 square foot rapid prototyping lab. Multidisciplinary teams engage in hands-on projects that challenge their innovation, creativity and communication skills. The goal is to give students an opportunity to understand and acquire the skills necessary to becoming leaders in innovation, as well as to support them in founding startup companies based on their designs.

The Bring Your Own Idea event took place Sept. 16-18. The theme of the event was open to any and all innovative ideas. Teams with exciting new ideas design and present their ideas to compete for $2,225 in prize money.

Soni’s team, SnapDesk, included Ph.D. student Jon Rickert, senior Omar Dauleh, juniors Muhammad Aun and Gabriel Wang, and sophomore Allison Kornher. The team developed a backpack designed for students that can also be used as a portable desk and chair. Its lightweight design allows it to be carried by even small school children.

The goal of the team’s project is to provide an affordable solution for students in developing countries who attend schools without basic equipment like chairs or desks. The philanthropic nature of the project is what compelled Soni to join the team to help in any capacity necessary to ensure the success of the product.

“The concept of a portable desk really touched me,” said Soni. “Being from a developing country, I know that it is a major problem when students don’t have desks to write on and have to hunch on the floor to write in dimly lit classrooms.”

As a graduate student on a team of mostly undergraduates, Soni was naturally a valuable asset to the team. He helped in all aspects of the brainstorming and engineering design, as well as researching existing competitors in the market and other data relevant to the project.

Soni hopes to pursue a career as a project manager with a notable engineering firm after graduating. He credits his time in the civil engineering department at Texas A&M for his preparation to do so.

“It is one of the most challenging programs that will bring out the best of your abilities and widen your knowledge of this field, giving you both theoretical and practical exposure to face real world problems effectively.”

Contributing author: Ryan Terry