By Victoria Feng, AKOM and Money Smarts Editor
Mrinali Kesavadas is a 3M America’s Top Young Scientist finalist for the invention of her low cost CPR simulator that shows if someone is doing CPR correctly or not. It only costs $50 and could be key in teaching people in developing countries how to do CPR, and will help save lives.
AK: What inspired you to find a low-cost method to teach CPR?
MK: When I was very little – I have often heard about the story from my dad of how my grandfather passed away due to cardiac arrest. He was in India at the time and my father was only 12 years old. Even though several people watched him suffer, no one knew how to perform CPR. I always wondered if trained people could have saved my grandfather’s life. Last year, I decided to carry out my idea of making a simulator to help people learn the procedure. As I did my research, I was surprised that most of the simulators currently available were pretty low-tech and did not provide good feedback to help people to properly learn CPR. Furthermore, there was no low-cost simulator that could be used for developing countries. This is what inspired me to develop a low cost CPR simulator.
AK: What was the most challenging part of creating the simulator?
MK: The two most challenging parts were the electronics and creating a physical mannequin which responded like the human chest. To make my idea work, I had to use several sensors and write an algorithm which provided both visual and audio feedback. For my mannequin, I used a contraption with several rubber bands to provide the physical feedback.
AK: Does the simulator have any special features including being low-cost?
MK: Yes, it tells you if the rate of your CPR, pressure and depth are accurate or not. Based on these three parameters, it gives you visual feedback on whether you have passed or not.
AK: What are your goals for the future?
MK: I am really interested in refining the simulator to make it robust so that it can be used for a long duration without breaking down. I also have to figure out how this can be manufactured at a low cost if I can make it in large volume.
AK: Has inventing the low-cost CPR simulator changed your views of science?
MK: Yes – I am impressed how low cost sensors can provide amazing results, which we often only read in textbooks. I have also started realizing that for many widespread health problems – there could be low cost devices and solutions today.
AK: What is the most important thing you have learned during your Top Young Scientist mentorship?
MK: Dr. Benton Free, my 3M Scientist Mentor, has taught me the process of thinking like a scientist. Research requires systematic exploration – looking at various options. It also requires good record keeping and coming up with the best solution from many options. Then we have to justify why one option is better than the other.
AK: What advice would you give to our readers about following their dreams and making a difference?
MK: My advice based on my experience is that – if you have an idea, just try it. Do not worry about success and failure. Unless you try it out, you never know if you can do it or not. When I decided to enter the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, I never thought I would be a finalist but that did not stop me from following through with my idea.
AK: Is there anything else you would like to add?
MK: I’d like to encourage all kids and teens out there who are interested in science to visit www.youngscientistchallenge.com. You’ll be able to follow along with the competition, check out the other finalists and their amazing projects, read blog posts from the finalists and 3M scientist mentors, and find out the results of the final event in October. Definitely check it out!