Since she was young, Meesha Gupta ’21 has been blessed with an intellectual curiosity, a trait that has guided her through a range of projects.
She has harvested rainwater in India, studied social robotics and learned how a solar quadcopter works. She has also created things in Union’s 3D lab.
This summer, Gupta is working on one of her most meaningful and fulfilling projects. The electrical engineering major is among 12 people – and the only undergraduate - selected for the 2020 Hackaday Dream Team Challenge. It is a new element of the Hackaday Prize, the largest hardware innovation challenge.
Four teams of three people each are tasked with coming up with engineering-based solutions for a specific nonprofit. Gupta is part of the Field Ready Dream Team. Based in San Francisco, Field Ready designs, manufactures and distributes products for humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the world. Each team member is paid $6,000 for the summer.
The challenge for Gupta’s team is to “design a means of quality control that remotely tracks and evaluates solutions, protects consumers and ensures a roadmap for reporting and repair” of products sent to war and natural disaster zones.
“I am responsible for designing a labeling system for the products,” said Gupta. “The challenge is that the products are made from a wide variety of materials and are of different sizes. Therefore, the labeling system needs to be engineered in a way that it serves rapid-response products as well as long-term products. I'm experimenting with making labels out of recyclable aluminum cans and some other interesting stuff.”
Part of the project also involves the creation of an app.
“I am developing flowcharts and design requirements for that,” Gupta said. “I gained these skills through the various electrical engineering classes I have taken at Union. I’m learning new software skills, too.”
The project shifted to remote because of the coronavirus pandemic. This has presented some logistical problems. Gupta is in India, while the other team members are in the U.K. and Mexico. The company that sponsors Hackaday is based in Pasadena, Calif.
“We use a web-based app for time zone conversion and share a Google calendar to schedule two meetings per day every week,” Gupta said. “It is working really well, though. I just have to change my sleep schedule.”
This is a busy time for Gupta. In addition to the Hackaday Dream Team Challenge, she is working remotely on a summer research project with Chandra Sekhar Pappu, visiting assistant professor of electrical, computer and biomedical engineering.
She is also doing a remote internship in India with a startup for a “Smart Street Food Cart” to address health and hygiene issues with food carts. Part of that included designing a solar refrigeration product.
Gupta is Union’s first Next Genius Scholar, a Mumbai-based educational initiative that partners with colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe. Union awards one full-tuition scholarship each year to a candidate from this nationwide competition in India.
She plans to return to campus in the fall under the Union Where You Are plan created during the pandemic. She credits the College with nurturing her intellectual curiosity.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of the Union community, my professors and mentors who have guided me in every way possible,” she said.