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Mitchell Torok

Mechatronics whiz

Mitchell Torok is the Rosny College student from Tasmania that took out the Engineering award in this year’s BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards alongside his cousin Isaac Brain.

Together, with Mitchell working on the mechanics and Isaac programming the device, they came up with a piece of wearable technology called ‘aWear’. It works like a portable distress button for elderly patients living in nursing homes or assisted living, which is more effective than standard distress buttons which are usually placed out of reach on the walls. It’s also got an inbuilt accelerometer to detect when a patient has fallen over – even if they can’t reach the button for help.

“Nurses are alerted to the patient’s status via SMS, email, or existing nursing home alarm systems. The web server also receives motion data from the device, and analyses it to determine if a fall has occurred.”

What makes this an award-winning design is the attention to detail that Mitchell and Isaac designed into every aspect of the device, from the way it’s worn to its battery life.

“The device features a replaceable battery which nurses can change at mealtimes, removing the need to take the device off for charging overnight as falls can often occur when patients are getting out of bed. It has also been designed to be worn in multiple configurations such as a watch, brooch, or lanyard.”

Mitchell and Isaac came up with the idea out of concern for Mitch’s great grandmother who lives by herself in an apartment connected to a nursing home. Mitchell was worried that if she fell she’d be unable to call for help, so wanted to use his skills in robotics and mechanics to solve the issue and ensure peace of mind for these residents and their families.

Mitchell is no stranger to putting his mind to solving problems with STEM skills or simply tackling a robotics project just for fun. He’s involved with his local robotics group, UTAS robotics and has devised some curious creations with his engineering skills.

“A couple of my favourites are a voice-activated, upside-down spinning Christmas tree with a marshmallow train,” says Mitchell, and it’s exactly how it sounds. You can watch a video of this festive invention here.

“Another project I’m really proud of is a life-sized Lego Space Invaders pinball machine I made with my dad.”

Creating the ‘aWear’ device feels like it’s just the beginning for Mitchell. If he had unlimited resources, he’d love to focus on making cheaper and more accessible renewable energy sources to combat the devastating effects of man-made climate change. For now, he’s enrolled in a degree in mechatronics at UNSW, and hopes to continue developing the aWear device to make it smaller and more efficient.

If you’re looking to follow in Mitchell’s footsteps, he has some keen words of advice: “Don’t be scared to just make something. All the parts and knowledge you need to get started are readily available. It’s just about diving in, failing and learning from your mistakes.”

“Don’t be scared to just make something. All the parts and knowledge you need to get started are readily available. It’s just about diving in, failing and learning from your mistakes.”

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