Aberdeen High School senior Chad Shetterly has developed a potential method of combating increasing drug overdose deaths in Harford County and other communities — autonomous drones that can partner with 911 dispatch to deliver Narcan to a fixed point where that drug can be used to revive an overdose victim.
“I needed to come up with a way to deliver the anti-overdose drug Narcan in a short amount of time,” Shetterly, 17, of Aberdeen said.
He plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Shetterly developed the drone proposal for his capstone project, the final project for his senior year at the AHS Science and Mathematics Academy magnet program. His experiment, along with 48 other capstone projects, were on display in the school cafeteria Tuesday evening for the annual SMA gallery walk.
The event was open to members of the community, including the seniors’ professional mentors, their parents and siblings, SMA alumni and younger students in the magnet program along with their parents.
Visitors could see other projects such as Jacob Kurth’s demonstration of a graphical user interface of human brain/computer interactions, which included a replica of a human head that lit up to show brain activity and a laptop computer that showed the same data in line graph form. Both devices received data from a headset Kurth wore to track his surface-level brain activty while interacting with visitors.
The human head, which includes 244 LEDs that display brain activity with colored lights, was developed for CLIVE, or Customizable Lighting Interface for the Visualization of EEG data. That graphical user interface was the focus of Kurth’s project as he worked with mentors at the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground. CLIVE is an ongoing project at the research lab.
Kurth, 18, of Forest Hill, said CLIVE gives the public an “intuitive” view of surface brain activity, rather than trying to decipher the lines scrolling on the computer screen.
“Anyone can use this without scrolling through pages of code,” Kurth said. “It does not require a knowledge of neuroscience anymore.”
Potential uses include allowing mental health professionals to get real-time views of how calming techniques help patients, giving neuroscientists “a much more intuitive way of viewing” EEG, or electroencephalogram, data during their operations, or placing a headset in soldiers’ helmets to monitor their brain activity in the field, Kurth said.
Staff at the Army Research Laboratory have spent about two-and-a-half years working on CLIVE, Kurth’s mentor, W. David Hairston, said. The hardware and software have already been developed — with support from college and high school students — and Kurth focused on the graphical interface portion, Hairston said.
He said Kurth learned about neuroscience and how engineering techniques are applied to accomplish technical goals during his project. Kurth said he plans to study computer science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
“We really believe it’s important for students to understand how what they’re doing fits into the much larger picture,” Hairston said.
Seniors work with mentors in various fields as they develop and conduct tests for their Capstone projects.
The four-year SMA program, which started in 2004, is open to students who live throughout Harford County. Donna Clem, a retired Harford County Public Schools teacher and department head who helped found SMA and later served as the program specialist, said the Class of 2018 is the 10th graduating class in the program.
“[I’m] very proud of you,” she said at an awards ceremony later in the evening.
Back at the gallery walk, Shetterly said developing the mechanism used to drop the Narcan package was the focus of his project.
His project grew out of Harford County’s ongoing deadly opioid epidemic, which as of Monday has claimed 36 lives from 154 suspected overdoses this year, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
First responders in Harford are authorized to carry Narcan, but Shetterly wants the drone to get to an overdose call first, especially in more rural areas where police or EMS response times could be longer than in urban or suburban areas. Law enforcement and health officials have also pointed out they might be called to administer Narcan to the same person multiple times in a single day.
Shetterly created a 3-D model of the mechanism, then fabricated it using a 3-D printer and installed the device on a fixed-wing drone. He said fixed-wing drones fly “much farther, much faster” than rotary-powered drones that typically hover.
The drone was operated manually during testing; someone with “a lot of computer science knowledge” would be needed to develop the program further to where the drone becomes autonomous, Shetterly said.
Shetterly said the drone should get to the scene — it would be guided to a fixed GPS waypoint — drop the Narcan on the waypoint and fly back to its base for more doses.
He suggested the drone would be operated by a private contractor which partners with local emergency services departments.
“It’s about delivering the Narcan,” Shetterly said.
He is the third of four Shetterly children to go through the SMA program. His brother, Ryan, the oldest, and sister, Julie, the second oldest, are graduates, according to their father, Kevin Shetterly.
“All three did very well in science and math [before high school] and so chose the SMA to study,” the elder Shetterly said while attending the gallery walk. “We’re very proud of them.”
His youngest child, Rachel, is a sophomore at Harford Technical High School in Bel Air, with a focus on culinary skills. Harford Tech is a magnet school that draws students from all over the county for its multiple vocational programs.
“There’s a lot of opportunities in Harford County Public Schools,” Kevin Shetterly said.
Senior Sarah Patrick, 18, of Jarrettsville, developed universal roles and responsibilites for “ad hoc teams,” or teams of experts from different disciplines brought together to work on projects, a common practice in the technological industry.
Patrick said the universal roles will help members of ad hoc teams who have not worked with each other before — she has submitted the roles to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for review for publication as an international standard.
“By referring to these roles, they’ll have better outcomes on a project, and they’ll build their credibility as a team member, Patrick said.
She plans to study information science at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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Shourov Kundu, 18, of Bel Air, developed an “agent” that can be used on Android devices to help the Army analyze the effectiveness of its technology in the field.
Kundu’s Android agent was designed to support the Army’s Fine Grain Service Monitoring System. He said “fine grain” refers to the deep and detailed levels of data.
“It’s really accurate data, that’s essentially what it is,” Kundu said.
He said Army leaders who want to ensure software programs do not use up scarce resources while in the field can use his agent to collect and record data in their Fine Grain Service Monitoring System server.
The data can then be stored, monitored or analyzed.
“Whatever they need to do to makes sure that any software you have is being used effectively,” Kundu said.
He plans to study computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park.