DIY Smart Bench: How 3 High School Students Built an Invention from Scratch

Croatia is set to become a smart bench superpower if things continue to develop at this rate - a story of innovative students from Slatina on May 1, 2018

You've heard about Ivan Mrvoš, a young innovator from Solin who designed the first smart bench in Croatia and scored himself a nomination for this year's MIT 'Innovators Under 35' awards in Europe. You've also heard about Marko Varga, a 19-year-old innovator from Zlatar in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region who's working on intelligent bench technologies. Now, meet a group of high school students from Slatina who created yet another smart bench - not set on conquering the global market, though.

Jurica Šafar, Mate Dorčak and Davor Kristić are all freshmen at the Industrial Vocational High School Slatina. Jurica and Mate are studying to become agricultural machinery mechanics, whereas Davor is a future auto-mechanic. As they were waiting for the school bus one day after class, inspiration struck, and the idea for a DIY smart bench was born.

"We've seen on the internet that some places have hybrid smart benches with mobile phone chargers, and as we all own smartphones, we decided to build one on our own", Jurica said. They asked their professor Vedran Runja for help and consulted the school's headmaster Mladen Graovac.

"They told me they wanted to build something that would make it easier for them to charge their phones during break time, so they wouldn't have to run around from classroom to classroom looking for chargers. I asked what they needed, and they said they had already got everything, their own equipment, design, knowledge and drive", said the headmaster proudly.


They used the leftover materials from some of their classes. The only thing they'd been missing was a solar cell, but they didn't have to buy one: professor Ranko Čučković provided them with a battery and solar cells donated to the school when they participated in a HEP-sponsored contest a couple of years ago.

It took them three months to assemble the bench, as they worked in 1-2 hour intervals each day after school. The result? A two-metre-long bench that can sit four and is thus equipped with four waterproof USB ports. They also installed a lamp post next to the bench, its LED lights coming from the school's department of electrics.

In sunny days, the solar panel is charging the battery, which is in turn equipped with a transformer that produces energy required to charge phones. Once the sun is down, the light turns on automatically, explained Jurica. They're proud of their bench, a project that will teach other students about renewable energy sources and raise awareness of the importance of environment protection.

Inspired by the successful outcome, the students are now planning other projects, including building an electric car. According to headmaster Graovac, future projects will also involve students of other departments.

One of the first people to charge their phone on the new smart bench in Slatina was Igor Andrović, the Prefect of Virovitica-Podravina County. "This is an excellent example of how to make school classes more interesting, raise them to another level and entice the students to work on innovations. Our county needs students like these, as they know how to contribute to education and the economic development in general, Andrović said.


Source: Lokalni / Photo credit: Industrijsko-obrtnička škola Slatina