As a life-long tinkerer, Sam Barresi ’24 felt right at home after enrolling in Merrimack College’s School of Engineering and Computational Sciences. However, he couldn’t help but feel that something was missing.
“I came in with a lot of design experience,” he explained. “If I want to build something, I’m confident enough in myself to think that I could. (I felt) a lot of other students didn’t have that (confidence).”
So, during his sophomore year, he founded Let’s Innovate, a club that gives Merrimack students the resources and expertise to get their engineering ideas off the ground. That next year, it won Student Organization of the Year at Merrimack’s L.E.A.D. Awards.
“We will teach you how to build a prototype, build upon that prototype and eventually make a final product,” he explained.
Barresi, who also serves as club president, has years of engineering experience to properly help students achieve their goals. At Longmeadow High School in Longmeadow, Mass., he helped establish the school’s robotics team.
“I believe that engineers are problems-solvers of the world,” he said. “And I’ve been solving people’s problems my whole life. So I thought, ‘Why not do that (in college)?’”
This year, Let’s Innovate is hosting its first-ever design competition, Mack Attack – not to be confused with the Merrimack-themed beer recently released by RiverWalk Brewing Company. Thirteen students split into four groups will have their projects judged by a panel of local industry professionals at the end of the year.
The four projects in this year’s competition include a prosthetic arm designed for weight lifting and sports, ergonomic devices to help those with nerve damage write and use a computer, a snap-on cover that converts cleats to shoes and a music player that uses laser technology to create a rhythmic light show that will those who are hearing impaired a new a way to experience music.
“We had them present to a panel of four mentors from industry (in late November),” said Barresi. “Those mentors are now available to help the students develop their products even more, work on their presentation skills and do all the things that I and the rest of the executive board can’t do, (like help) bring products to market.”
The final round of Mack Attack is planned for April, but Barresi said there will be more workshops and opportunities to present project updates along the way.