CTA Leads to Student Invention

Eli Evans faces the camera, with computer monitors in the background

Halifax County High School (HCHS) senior and Career Tech Academy (CTA) Level 2 student Eli Evans is a gadget-designing technology enthusiast. He recently used his passion and skills to design and build a security camera to be deployed at HCHS and Sinai Elementary School (Halifax County).

Through the CTA’s Level 2-Work-Based Learning Program, Evans is completing a paid internship with Propel GPS, a cloud-based IoT company based in South Boston, VA. According to its website, Propel GPS’s mission is “to save transportation companies and schools money, provide asset security, promote efficiency and safety.”

“Eli’s current duties at Propel GPS include working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders to improve safety within our school district,” said Stephanie Robinson, CTA administrator.

To that end, Evans was asked by Rick Burtner, company CEO, to find a security camera that could be used in the schools for under $99.

“I was looking online, and the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for cameras with wireless capabilities ran about $429,” Evans said. Being ever resourceful, Evans decided he would try to make one.

He designed the prototype using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program and the SVHEC’s 3D printer. A small team of people from Propel GPS helped Evans build the camera.

The camera is designed to mount onto doors, and it can be adapted to meet the needs of the user. “It is a Raspberry Pi-based camera with an open source Linux operating system,” Evans said. “It has the capability of night vision, which I added after a security consultant asked if it had that feature. It also has a door-opening sensor trigger,” he said.

Evans plans on filing for a patent for the device. He credits the CTA’s work-based learning program for affording him such opportunities. “The CTA has made all of this possible, leading me to where I am now,” he said. As a junior in high school, he was part of CTA’s first class when the program launched fall 2018. He enrolled in CTA’s IT track, and earned five industry recognized certifications including CompTIA A+ and Server+.