The city’s newest aspiring entrepreneurs

The Center for K12 STEM Education’s CrEST program was conducted virtually but resulted in prototypes that could be useful IRL

Robot Hand Sanitizer

High school students that took part in this summer’s CrEST (Creativity in Engineering, Science, and Technology) program, run by Tandon’s Center for K12 STEM Education, developed an automated way to sanitize your hands.

Detailed CAD plans, YouTube-ready ads, savvy cost analyses ...  if any angel investors had been watching, they might have thought they were interacting with seasoned entrepreneurial pros instead of high school students. 

These were no ordinary high school students, however. The group had just completed this summer’s CrEST (Creativity in Engineering, Science, and Technology) program, run by Tandon’s Center for K12 STEM Education and aimed at giving them practical experience in physical computing, mechanical systems, and electronics. By the time of the final showcase, held via Zoom, each team had painstakingly designed a product, figured out financial factors, and envisioned how to market it. 

Teams had worked together virtually with the help of several Tandon undergraduate and graduate students, there to provide information and encouragement: Lizeth Oliva, Shahrin Haque, Herman Lin, Simon Khan, Yash Shirodkar, and Ivan Gil. “I wish all instructors could be like them,” Daniel Uzhca, who attended Queens Tech High School, said. “They were realistic about the skills and hard work that go into projects like these, yet they could also make things seem really fun.”

Besides Queens Tech, students hailed from schools all over the city, including Transit Tech; the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture; Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology; Midwood; Brooklyn International; and the Academy of Software Engineering. They brought with them a desire to create not just commercially viable products but innovations that would be societally beneficial. (COVID-19 was on many of their minds, as was accessibility for those with disabilities.)

"We are really excited that the CrEST program — a longtime partnership with the ExpandED Options initiative of ExpandEDSchools — could move online this summer,” Ben Esner, the director of the Center for K12 STEM Education, said. “Huge thank you to the Center's Jasmine Phelps and our colleagues for their efforts to make that happen, along with our lead instructor and Tandon student Lizeth Oliva and her crew of engineering mentors. From adjustments to the curriculum, to mailing gear directly to these high school students, and through dozens of other steps, this group did outstanding work. And to the CrEST students: we are so impressed with your resilience and tenacity in uncertain times, sticking with online learning, your excellent presentations, and your 100% completion rate. Our sincere congratulations on a job well done."

CrEST Teams:

Echo Lens

(Team members Tanuza Abdin, Eric Lin, Alexis Ramirez, and Alexander Guerrero) 
A device that will allow a vision-impaired individual to sense objects and people around them through echolocation.

WJAK's NoSnooze Alarm

(Team members Jamal Henriques, Winston Mickle, Katherine Rodriguez, and Adam Ortiz)
A surefire way to avoid the temptation of remaining in bed “just five minutes more.”


(Team members Matthew Finamore, Daniel Uzhca, Sara Reth-Rosario, and Isatu Balde) 
A cure for the many headaches using a MetroCard can cause.


(Team members David Chen, Darien Williams, Ying Wang, and Jonathan Suconota)
The insomnia-curing, occipital-massaging, music-playing, temperature-controlled pillow.


(Team members Nabira Ahmad, Xiaorui Lei, Jose Nunez, Hailey Horvath) 
A better way to sanitize your hands.


(Team members Sebastian Torres, Mingrong Hou, and Colin Powlett)
A warning system to alert you if you (or someone near you) is not complying with recommended social distancing strictures.