NTU students invent "Block-It-Out" drain cover that stops mosquitoes from breeding

SINGAPORE - A group of students have designed a drain cover which could help in the fight against dengue.

"Block-It-Out" is installed under drain grills and flips open to allow large volumes of water to flow in a heavy downpour. It is also angled and has small holes to filter out any stagnant water.

Inspired by the dengue epidemic, it was designed by seven second-year students at Nanyang Technological University as a way to stop mosquitoes from breeding.The mechanical and aerospace engineering students were required to solve a problem using concepts and knowledge they have learnt in university. They also had to develop a prototype and business plan to market the idea.

"When it comes to dengue, drains were something we wanted to improve on, since household checks depend on the owner himself," said Mr Zulqarnain Abdul Halil, 22. The group took four months to complete the project and consulted the National Environment Agency and PUB.

Block-It-Out took second prize in the energy and environment category of the university's 15th Engineering Innovation and Design Open House and competition, held last Saturday.

The first prize in the category went to a bin with a side door, making it easier to empty.

For another group, reports on accidents involving cyclists and motorists prompted them to make a "near collision" alarm system. "BikeSense" uses an ultrasonic sensor to measure the distance between a vehicle and a bicycle. Depending on how close they are, the device will beep and flash a red light at different rates.

The group of seven built the alarm from scratch by sourcing sensors and parts costing about $100 in total. "If we are given the opportunity to market it, we hope that buying and producing in bulk will reduce the cost to an ideal of $30," said member Jerome Lau, 23. It bagged the top prize in the safety and security category.

Other projects included a heat alarm which can be mounted on a soldier's vest to help prevent heat-related injuries and a swivel window to remove the risk when leaning out to clean the exterior.

Seventy-nine teams took part in the contest, judged by alumni engineers and industry players.

sabrinat@sph.com.sg


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